Nord Stream 1 goes offline for maintenance: Will Russia turn it back on?

Jul. 11, 2022 6:04 AM ETUNG, FCG, UNL, BOIL, KOLD, UGAZF, DGAZ, GAZBy: Yoel Minkoff, SA News Editor69 Comments

3D render of the construction of the gas pipe Nord Stream 2. The concept of sanctions and economic war, an anvil falling on a gas pipe. 3D rendering

Mikhail Mishunin

Energy concerns in Europe are getting grimmer by the day, with an emboldened Russia in a position to squeeze the bloc over its heavy sanctions and support for Ukraine. Moscow supplies the EU with 40% of the natural gas imports, and in countries like Germany, that figure is as high as 60%. Natural gas is used for heating and cooking for consumers, as well as electricity and power generation for heavy industry.

The latest: Russia has slashed capacity to Germany via Nord Stream 1 by 40% over the past week, just as the country was attempting to fill up its storage before wintertime. The cuts were caused by sanctions questions over a turbine that was being serviced in Canada, but another disruption will hit the important pipeline over the next 10 days, with annual maintenance work taking place from July 11 through July 21. Germany and other EU countries are fearful that the Kremlin could extend the shutdown due to the war in Ukraine, or might even turn off the taps for good.

"Based on the pattern we've seen, it would not be very surprising now if some small, technical detail is found and then they could say 'now we can't turn it on any more,'" according to German Economy Minister Robert Habeck. The country has already raised the alarm in its emergency gas plan, and the next level would see the government ration consumption and assume control of the entire nation's distribution network. Germany has also reopened several coal-fired power stations to shore up supply, with Dutch TTF natural gas futures, a European benchmark, rising more than 400% over the past year.

Outlook: There are other big natural gas pipelines running from Russia to Europe, but flows have been gradually declining due to squabbles over ruble payments and reported interference by Russian forces. Some European countries are now looking to Norway for additional supplies, while southern nations are eyeing Azeri gas from the Trans Adriatic Pipeline to Italy and the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline via Turkey. Other ideas include boosting LNG imports, or increasing power generation from nuclear, hydropower, renewables or coal.

ETFs: UNG, UGAZF, DGAZ, BOIL, FCG, KOLD, UNL, GAZ

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