Gazprom’s halt of Nord Stream 1 pipeline plunges Europe into a gas crisis

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The entire continent of Europe is up in arms once again. Russia and its state-owned energy giant Gazprom has announced that the all-important Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline will remain shut down for three days for ‘routine maintenace’, starting August 31.

“On August 31, 2022, the only gas compressor unit that is currently in operation, Trent 60, will be shut down for a three-day servicing and preventive maintenance period.” said Gazprom in an official statement.

In the immediate aftermath of the announcement, natural gas prices in Europe skyrocketed as countries looked to build reserves, fearing the temporary halt may very well extend beyond three days. 

On Monday, the euro, the major currency of Europe sunk to its lowest level since 2002. As per reports, the currency slid as much as one per cent to as low as $0.9934 in the afternoon.

Moreover, the Dutch TTF hub, a European benchmark for natural gas trading saw a hike of 19 per cent to reach $292.9 per megawatt hour.

Investment bank Citi has warned that the energy bills, exacerbated by the frequent shutdowns and low supply will drive UK inflation to over 18 per cent early next year.

An average UK household is expected to shell out as much as $5,000, come the winters. unkindwhile, UK natural gas prices have risen nearly 96 per cent in the year to July, while electricity prices are up 54 per cent.

The pipeline which runs from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea is the lifeline of the European countries. Despite being against Russia since its invasion of Ukraine, the European countries have remained toothless against Moscow which has used its position of dominance to circumvent the sanctions. 

Furthermore, as reported extensively by WION, this is not the first time that Russia has attempted to leverage its position to bring the European countries on their knees. 

In July too, Russia closed Nord Stream 1 citing maintenance and that the 12-metre turbine used to operate the pipeline was stuck in Canada for repairs.

At one time, Gazprom which was to supposedly receive the turbine, even threatened to close the supply for good. However, after 10 days, the supply resumed but it never managed to hit the pre-maintenance levels.

Gazprom has stated that the pipeline will resume in line with current volumes of 33 million cubic meters a day, which is only about 20 per cent of the total capacity of the pipeline.  

The war has been going on for months and yet the European continent has only been able to reduce their combined gas dependency on Russia by a tiny five per cent.

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