Moscow/Brussels, Sep 2 (EFE).- Russia’s Gazprom said Friday that the planned Sept. 3 resumption of natural gas flows to Germany via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline will be delayed because of oil leaks, an explanation dismissed by a European Union spokesman as “fallacious.”
Gazprom halted pumping on Wednesday for what the company said would be three days of maintenance at the Portovaya compressor station, located at the Russian terminus of the pipeline.
But in the course of the work, technicians discovered oil leaks and in the view of Russia’s Rostechnadzor industrial safety regulator, “the damage does not allow safe accident-free operation of the gas turbine engine,” Gazprom said.
“Gas transport via the Nord Stream gas pipeline has been completely stopped until these issues relating to operation of equipment are corrected,” the company said.
Representatives of Germany’s Siemens Energy, which has a contract to maintain the turbines, signed “a document confirming oil leakage detection,” Gazprom said.
The EU, however, rejected Gazprom’s claims.
“Gazprom’s announcement this afternoon that it is once again shutting down NorthStream1 under fallacious pretenses is another confirmation of its unreliability as a supplier,” European Commission spokesman Eric Mamer said on Twitter.
“It’s also proof of Russia’s cynicism, as it prefers to flare gas instead of honoring contracts,” he wrote.
Nord Stream 1 has been functioning at roughly 20 percent capacity for months because of maintenance issues that Gazprom blames on the sanctions the West imposed on Russia for the invasion of Ukraine.
Citing sanctions, the Canadian government initially prohibited the return of a Nord Stream 1 turbine sent to Canada for repair.
Ottawa eventually authorized the shipment of the turbine to Siemens, but it remains in Germany and Moscow demands an assurance that the part is not subject to sanctions before requesting its return.
“Our opponents have issued so many sanction documents that they created a situation, which could be called sanctions confusion,” Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said Wednesday.
“And today Siemens has practically no opportunity to provide regular major maintenance of our gas-pumping equipment. Siemens simply has nowhere to carry out this work,” Miller said.
Siemens Energy said that it could not “confirm” Miller’s statements and that maintenance is “explicitly excluded” from sanctions.
Hours ahead of the Gazprom announcement of a delay in resuming deliveries via the pipeline, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman warned that the continued function of Nord Stream 1 is in jeopardy.
“There are no technology reserves, there is only one turbine in operation, so you do the math,” Dmitry Peskov told reporters at the Kremlin. EFE mos-cat/dr