Gazprom PJSC once again blamed Siemens Energy AG for the fact that turbines aren’t operating as they should on the Nord Stream gas pipeline to Europe.
While Kremlin insiders admit Gazprom could be piping more gas, the company set out what it said were the challenges to getting the machines working. Siemens has dismissed Gazprom’s criticisms, saying equipment maintenance should be routine.
The dispute also illustrates the complications for the European Union, which is racing to secure supplies and stave off a recession amid an energy crisis. Gazprom earlier this week cut Nord Stream flows to 20% of capacity, citing issues with turbine maintenance and sanctions imposed by Western countries opposed to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“We urge the partners to resolve the issues as soon as possible and the situation with gas supplies to the European market will immediately normalise,” Gazprom Deputy Chief Executive Officer Vitaly Markelov told state TV Rossiya-24.
Gazprom has been reducing flows via Nord Stream in stages since mid-June.
The Portovaya compressor station in Russia, where the pipeline begins, is designed to operate six major and two smaller turbines, but only one major turbine is now functional due to sanctions, according to the company.
A unit that was in Canada for repairs at a Siemens manufacturing site has gotten ensnared in the dispute on its way back to Russia. While Canada’s government has issued a waiver allowing shipment of the turbine to Germany as well as future repairs of such equipment, Gazprom claims the waiver in its current form may not be enough.
“The permission issued by Canadian authorities does not take into account conditions of the current contract” with Gazprom on servicing the turbines, Markelov said. The waiver is issued to Siemens Energy Canada Ltd, which has no contract with Gazprom, he added.
Currently, three turbines that require repairs in Canada are still in Russia, with little clarity on how they can be brought to the manufacturing site and back amid due to sanctions, and three more require maintenance from Siemens, according to Markelov.
The fact that the repaired component is now in the EU creates the additional need for the bloc’s authorities to guarantee they will allow all future repairs and maintenance of all Portovaya turbines, Markelov said. The turbine supplier is a British producer, so similar clarifications are necessary from the UK, he added.
Publicly, Russia has claimed that missing paperwork and turbine maintenance have forced it to recently slash supply. In reality, the Kremlin is using the Nord Stream disruptions to raise the political heat on the EU to reconsider the sanctions and support for Kyiv, according to people familiar with the leadership’s thinking.
The two companies dispute whether Siemens has access to the compressor station. “We currently have no access to the turbines on site and we have not received any damage reports from Gazprom so far,” Siemens Energy said in a statement Wednesday. “Therefore, we have to assume that the turbines are operating normally,” the German manufacturer added.
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