On Monday, Russia’s Gazprom announced the shutdown of another turbine on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany, reducing gas flows to one-fifth of normal capacity.

The fresh supply setback comes at a time when Russia and the West are exchanging economic blows in reaction to Moscow’s actions in Ukraine. The European Union has accused Russia of using energy blackmail, while the Kremlin claims that the gas outage is due to maintenance issues and the impact of Western sanctions.

Gazprom said it was halting the operation of another Siemens gas turbine at Nord Stream 1’s Portovaya compressor station in compliance with the competent watchdog’s directives, taking into account the engine’s technical condition.

It said that starting at 0400 GMT on Wednesday, throughput would drop to 33 million cubic metres per day. That is only half of the present flows, which are currently at only 40% of typical capacity.

Politicians in Europe have frequently warned that Russia might cut off gas supply this winter, sending Germany into recession and causing soaring prices for consumers who are already dealing with increasing food and energy prices. Last week, Germany was compelled to bail out Uniper, its largest gas importer from Russia.

This month, President Vladimir Putin warned the West that ongoing sanctions risked causing catastrophic energy price increases for consumers worldwide. more info

Last week, Putin hinted at the latest cut in comments about the Nord Stream 1 compressor, saying: “There are two operational machines, which pump 60 million cubic meters per day… If one is not returned, a new one of 30 million cubic metres will be created.”

Russia is the world’s second largest oil exporter behind Saudi Arabia, as well as the world’s largest natural gas exporter. Russia supplies approximately 40% of Europe’s gas and 30% of its oil.

After a 10-day maintenance break, Gazprom resumed gas flows via Nord Stream 1 last week, but only at 40% of the pipeline’s capacity – a level Russia said it was compelled to cut volumes to in June due to the delayed return of a turbine being serviced in Canada.

European politicians have questioned that explanation, with Germany claiming that the turbine in question was not scheduled to be operational until September. more info

Gazprom (GAZP.MM) said earlier on Monday that it had received papers about the first turbine from Siemens Energy (ENR1n.DE) and Canada, but that there were still issues.

“Gazprom has studied…the documents,” it said in a statement, “but must acknowledge that they do not remove the previously identified risks and raise additional questions.”

“Additionally, there are still open questions from Gazprom regarding the EU and UK sanctions, the resolution of which is important for the delivery of the engine to Russia and the urgent overhaul of other gas turbine engines for the Portovaya compressor station.”

The Kremlin previously stated that it is not interested in a complete shutdown of Russian gas supplies to Europe, which is scrambling to replenish its underground reserves before the winter season.

It said Gazprom was not to blame for the storage risks, reiterating its line that Europeans are suffering the consequences of sanctions that they themselves imposed against Russia.

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