In front of a huge metal turbine that normally pushes natural gas from Russia to Germany via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, German Chancellor Olaf Schulz rejected Russia’s claim that technical problems were behind the sharp decline in gas flows to Germany.
He said the only reason the machine was not returned to Russia after undergoing maintenance work was because Gazprom, the Russian state energy giant, did not want to take it back.
The turbine, which is at the center of a dispute between Germany and Gazprom, was shown on Wednesday at a news event in Mülheim that the Ruhr der, where it has been stored since it was returned from refurbishment in Canada.
Russian President Gazprom and Vladimir Putin have blamed Siemens Energy, the turbine manufacturer, for delaying their return to Russia. They have repeatedly cited the need for “Required documents and clarifications,” He said his absence was the reason for reducing the gas flow to 20 percent of its capacity.
After weeks of issuing only succinct responses, the German side seemed intent on describing the hoax of Gazprom and Mr. Putin.
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“Obviously nothing, absolutely nothing stands in the way of the further transportation and installation of this turbine in Russia. It can be moved and used at any time,” Mr. Schultz told reporters. “There is absolutely no technical reason to cut back on gas supplies.”
European officials say Russia has reduced its gas shipments to punish Europe for its opposition to the war in Ukraine. In mid-June, Gazprom reduced the amount of gas it was delivering to Germany via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to just 40 percent of possible capacity. Last week, it dropped Amount again by half.
Germany still relies on Russia for about a third of its natural gas needs, down from more than half before the war began, but still enough to leave the country with cuts. It is struggling to stockpile enough fuel before winter demand spikes, hoping to avoid rationing and shutting down key industries if Russia cuts supplies entirely.
Gas storage facilities in Germany were 69 percent full as of Wednesday, but officials asked businesses and citizens to start reducing their energy use as much as possible while the weather was still warm. Almost half of all homes in Germany are heated with gas, and homes, along with basic infrastructure such as hospitals and rescue services, will be prioritized in case of shortages.
Mr. Putin suggested that Germany could solve its gas problem by opening a second pipeline that was halted days before Russia invaded Ukraine, Nord Stream 2.
This suggestion was echoed by Gerhard Schroeder, the former German chancellor who remains close to Mr. Putin despite being ostracized by his political party, the Social Democrats, and many Germans. In an interview with the German Newsweekly strictMr. Schroeder, who met the Russian president in Moscow last week, said the Kremlin was open to talks to end the war, on the condition that Ukraine relinquish its claim to Crimea – which Russia annexed in 2014 – as well as its aspirations. to join NATO.
Asked about the prospect of restarting Nord Stream 2, Mr. Schulz choked up on laughter, noting that the twin pipeline running under the Baltic Sea, Nord Stream 1, was already in use, as were other land links through Ukraine, plus one through Belarus and Poland – imposed by Russia.
“There is enough capacity with Nord Stream 1,” he said. “All contracts concluded by Russia for the whole of Europe can be carried out with the help of this pipeline.”
Reduced natural gas flows have pushed prices in Europe to record levels. On Wednesday, they were about twice as much as they were in mid-June, when Russia began restricting flows through its Nord Stream 1 pipeline.
Christian Prosch, the head of Siemens Energy, who appeared with Mr Schulz, said his company was in regular talks with Gazprom on the issue of the turbines and was keen to return them so that other Siemens turbines used in the pipeline could also be used. taken for maintenance.
But the Russian company has a “different view” of the situation, he said, without going into details.
“This turbine is ready to go immediately,” said Mr. Schulz. “If Russia does not use these turbines now, it is showing the whole world that not taking them is just an excuse to reduce gas supplies to Germany.”
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