Russia has scrapped a Saturday deadline to resume flows via a major gas supply route to Germany, deepening Europe’s difficulties in securing winter fuel, after saying it had found faults in the Nord Stream 1 pipeline during maintenance.
Nord Stream 1, which runs under the Baltic Sea, had been due to resume operating at 0100 GMT on Saturday after a three-day halt for maintenance, Reuters reports.
But Gazprom, the state-controlled firm with a monopoly on Russian gas exports via pipeline, said on Friday it could not safely restart deliveries until it had fixed an oil leak found in a vital turbine. It did not give a new time frame.
However, Siemens Energy, which normally services Nord Stream 1 turbines, said such a leak should not stop the pipeline from operating. It also said the Portovaya compressor station, where the leak was discovered, has other turbines for Nord Stream to keep operating.
“Such leaks do not normally affect the operation of a turbine and can be sealed on site. It is a routine procedure within the scope of maintenance work,” the company said.
Moscow has blamed sanctions, imposed by the West after Russia invaded Ukraine, for hampering routine operations and maintenance of Nord Stream 1. Brussels says this is a pretext and Russia is using gas as an economic weapon to retaliate.
“This is part of Russia’s psychological war against us,” tweeted Michael Roth, chair of the German parliamentary foreign affairs committee.
Siemens Energy said it is not currently contracted to carry out maintenance work on the line, but is on standby.
European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said earlier the EU should impose a price cap on Russian pipeline gas to foil what she said were President Vladimir Putin’s attempts to manipulate the market.