Let’s Tune In: Europe’s Most Important Gas Pipeline Closes Again

Giuseppe Maria Bartalotta
Latest posts by Giuseppe Maria Bartalotta (see all)
Source: Nordstream

Let’s Tune In is a weekly column produced by our Newsroom team to highlight one story that you might have missed from last week. You can read more about our weekly content on the Newsroom page.

After three days in which the North Stream pipeline was closed because it needed repairs, Gazprom announced the Nord Stream would have been closed due to the unexpected worst technical malfunctions. The decision has been taken by Gazprom and Russia’s industrial regulator Rostekhnadzor. It is not the first time that the pipeline was shut down because it has been closed for 10 days in July and after that intervention, its operativity has not gone beyond the 20% of its capacity.

The Nord Stream pipeline stretches 1.200 km and it connects Russia and Germany crossing the Baltic Sea. The project started in 1997 to facilitate the gas connections between Russia and Europe, but another reason was to facilitate the negotiations between Russia and the West because the threats of repercussions implemented by Eastern Europe made them difficult. In the end, the Nord Stream was inaugurated by Angela MerkelDmitrij Medvedev, and François Fillon on the 8th of November in 2011 at Lubmin. It has worked well since that moment and it can send a maximum of 170 million cubic meters of gas per day from Russia to Germany.

Source: North Stream

According to Russian authorities and Gazprom, the technical malfunctions would have been caused by West sanctions which did not allow the necessary adjustments needed by Russian infrastructures. Since July, the gas pipeline has been operating at reduced capacity because of the shutdown of several gas turbines, and for this reason, the flow has never been the same. What Russia highlights is that several turbines have been sent to Montreal and they were stuck because of the sanctions. Only one of those sent returned to Germany, causing a stir and it was also refused by Russian authorities because of irregularities in the documentation.

The shutdown arrived after the decision made by the G7 of applying a “cap price” to Russian products, a price decided on a range of technical inputs by the countries of the coalition. This decision has been made because the G7 does not want Russia to pay the cost of the war with the revenue of its products. From its side, Russia simply refused to sell its gas to countries that will accept the “cap price” on its products.

Germany and Europe are facing a very difficult period in which its economy is deteriorating. Europe went from the imminent opening of a new gas pipeline, North Stream 2, that would have guaranteed important economic growth for Europe and Russia to the closure of the Nord Stream, forcing Europe to a big change in their gas market and not only in that. and with the implementation of the West sanctions against Russia, because of its invasion. Germany had already said how important was the infrastructure for Europe and its economy, and for this reason, when there were the first problems with the pipeline Germany asked for the Canadian’s help in Nord Stream turbine repairing, regardless of the sanctions. This week Germany said the problems related to the three days of the planned shutdown of the pipeline would not have been felt by the people and the stakeholders but if this problem had been extended, as happened, there would have been more severe consequences.

After the G7 decided on the “cap price” on Russian products arrived the news that the Nord Stream would have been closed due to an oil leak in a turbine without stressing when it would start working again. The dependency on Russian gas is important from Europe‘s perspective and the same from the Russian point of view, but if Russia would have accepted what was happening and its partners would have accepted the “cap price” the Russian crisis and war would have been compromised.

What will happen next with Gas distribution in Europe? How much will European lifestyle change?

Suggested Readings:

Nord Stream 1: Russia shuts major gas pipeline to Europe – BBC News

Microsoft Word – G7 FM Statement September 2022 FINAL.docx (bundesfinanzministerium.de)

Putin gela tutta l’Europa: il gasdotto russo non riaprirà (msn.com)

Ukraine war: G7 agrees to impose price cap on Russian oil – BBC News


Ukraine war: Russia to keep key gas pipeline to EU closed – BBC News

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Let’s Tune In: Europe…

by Giuseppe Maria Bartalotta time to read: 3 min