Russian energy giant Gazprom has reportedly declared ‘force majeure’, saying it cannot guarantee gas supplies to its European customers. “This is a declaration of war,” Mikhail Krutikhin, co-founder of RusEnergy, told Deutsche Welle, adding that the order may have come from Putin.
Russian energy giant Gazprom reduced the pipeline’s capacity to 40 percent on June 14, citing the failure to complete a breakdown in the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which supplies gas to Europe under the Baltic Sea, due to missing parts expected to arrive from Canada.
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As Europe was on high alert after a 60 percent decrease in gas flow, the pipeline was shut down for annual maintenance. In a statement released by the company, it was announced that the pipeline will be serviced between July 11-21. Flows in the pipeline are now at zero.
RUSSIA DECLARES FORCE MAJEURE
Maintenance on the pipeline is expected to be completed in 2-3 days, but there is widespread concern in Europe that Russia will keep the taps shut in retaliation for sanctions imposed on them.
A notification from Gazprom to European countries further fueled these concerns. The energy giant announced that it cannot ‘guarantee’ gas supplies to its European customers due to circumstances beyond its control and declared force majeure.
FIRST SIGNAL THAT RUSSIA WILL CUT OFF GAS
Germany rejected Gazprom’s statement as ‘unjustified’. The German government underlined that the spare part, which is at the center of the uncertainty about the gas flow, should be installed in September and that there should be no further obstacles in this regard.
The Russian statement was interpreted in the Western media as the first hint that gas supplies from the Nord Stream 1 pipeline would not continue.
THIS IS A DECLARATION OF WAR
“When I heard Gazprom talking about force majeure, I thought the only reason could be orders from President Putin. This is a declaration of war, this is a gas war,” Mikhail Krutikhin, co-founder of RusEnergy, told Deutsche Welle.
Krutikhin added that Russia has three existing pipelines to export gas to Europe and enough reserves to do so easily.
COULD PLUNGE THE REGION INTO RECESSION
The Nord Stream pipeline supplies Europe with 55 billion cubic meters of gas a year, covering around 40 percent of the continent’s needs. Despite a succession of sanctions, there has been no mass disconnection from Russian gas, but gas flows through the pipeline have been on a downward trend in recent months.
If Moscow shuts down the pipeline in retaliation for sanctions imposed on it over the war in Ukraine, it would be the start of an energy crisis that could plunge the region into recession.
HEAT WAVE INCREASES DEMAND, EUROPE SEEKS SOLUTIONS
With the heat wave sweeping Europe, European countries are now filling up their gas storage facilities to avoid a catastrophic energy shortage in the winter months.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced plans to double the amount of natural gas imported from Azerbaijan within a few years to solve the crisis.