December 9, 2022

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Gazprom has completely stopped gas transit through Nord Stream

Russian gas giant Gazprom announced on Friday that the Nord Stream pipeline, vital to gas supplies to Europe, would be shut down “completely” until a turbine is repaired, while it was due to return to service on Saturday after a maintenance operation, reports AFP.

In a statement, Gazprom indicated that it discovered “oil leaks” in the turbine during this maintenance operation. “Until the turbine is repaired, gas transport through Nord Stream is completely suspended,” the group indicated.

Russia was due to resume gas supplies through the Nord Stream pipeline on Saturday, after another three-day outage that strained the nerves of Europeans, engaged in a race against time to avoid an energy crisis this winter.

Gazprom assured on Friday that it discovered these problems during a technical check carried out together with representatives of the German group Siemens, which manufactured the turbine.

The Russian energy group reports an “oil leak” from “cables connected to the speedometers of a rotor”. On Telegram, Gazprom published a photo showing cables surrounded by a brownish liquid.

Earlier in the day, the Kremlin said that the operation of the Nord Stream gas pipeline is “threatened” by a shortage of spare parts due to sanctions aimed at Moscow for its offensive in Ukraine.

Since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, at the end of February, Moscow has sharply reduced its gas supplies to Europe, as a reaction to the massive Western sanctions.

The Europeans, very dependent on Russian gas, accuse the Kremlin of using it as a means of pressure, which Moscow rejects, citing technical problems caused by sanctions and payment delays.

In particular, Russia says the sanctions prevent the return of a Siemens turbine, which had been sent to Canada for repair. Germany, where the turbine is located, assures on the contrary that it is Moscow that is blocking the return of this key part.

France will intensify gas and electricity exchanges with Spain and Germany

France will intensify gas and electricity exchanges with Spain and Germany next winter, in order to mutually work on energy management and avoid power outages, reports the EFE agency.

In a limited meeting dedicated to energy, the French Government analyzed on Friday the energy situation before the coming winter and in the event of a total interruption of gas exports by Russia.

The Defense Council “particularly analyzed the relations with Germany and Spain”, two countries “with which we have important exchanges of gas and electricity”, stated the Minister of Energy Transition, Agnes Pannier-Runacher, at a press conference organized after the meeting.

“I concluded that this mutual solidarity must be strengthened from the winter with these exchanges of gas and electricity with Germany and Spain”, she explained, but did not mention the subject of the MidCat gas pipeline project between Spain and France.

Friday’s meeting did not end with concrete decisions, except for the review of the situation and the calls for caution in the use of energy and for European solidarity, which allowed European countries to bring their gas reserves above the stipulated levels.

France reached 92% of capacity reserves, almost two months earlier than expected, and the other European countries “are also very advanced”, according to the minister, who added that the state group EDF “committed to start all nuclear reactors this winter”.

France currently has 32 of its 56 nuclear reactors shut down due to planned shutdowns for refueling and maintenance, as well as corrosion problems in the emergency cooling system at some of them.

The French nuclear park has a production capacity equivalent to 70% of the national electricity consumption.

Pannier-Runacher has repeatedly insisted on the importance of the French, companies and citizens, doing everything possible to save energy to avoid the possibility of power interruptions in the future.

“Based on the first evaluations, we trust that sobriety will allow the avoidance of restrictive measures”, said the minister, who insisted that “mobilization of all” be required.

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