Europe's gas woes deepened on Friday as Russia's state energy company Gazprom said it would halt supplies to the region via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline for three days at the end of the month.
The unscheduled maintenance order on the line, which runs under the Baltic Sea to Germany, deepens an energy stand-off between Moscow and Brussels that has already helped send inflation surging in Europe and raised the risk of rationing and recession.
Gazprom said the three-day shutdown was due to the pipeline's only remaining gas compressor requiring maintenance. The move will bring further disruption in the region, particularly for Germany, which depends largely on Russian energy to power its industry.
The announcement came hours after news broke that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz would head to Canada next week for a three-day trip aimed at deepening energy ties between the two G7 countries in what is believed to be the first Canada-only trip by a German chancellor.
Germany has already had to give Uniper, its largest importer of Russian gas and the highest-profile corporate victim of Europe's energy crisis so far, a €15 billion ($15.1bn) bailout last month after Russia drastically cut flows, forcing it to buy gas elsewhere at much higher prices.
The broader economic impact on Germany was highlighted in producer price data released on Friday, which showed in July the highest ever increases both year-on-year and month-on-month, as energy costs skyrocket.
The Nord Stream pipeline had already been running at only a fifth of its capacity, stoking fears that Russia could halt supplies completely heading into the winter and make it more difficult to fill up storage facilities.
After maintenance is complete, and “in the absence of technical malfunctions”, flows of 33 million cubic metres per day — in line with current volumes — will resume, Gazprom said.
This would still be only 20 per cent of Nord Stream's full capacity of 167 million cubic metres per day.
Gazprom said maintenance works at the remaining Trent 60 gas compressor station would be carried out together with Siemens Energy.