The Nord Stream 1 pipeline, which transports Russian gas to Germany, will undergo additional repair work, Gazprom said on Friday, canceling indefinitely the resumption of gas supplies that had been due to resume on Saturday.
Russia stopped Nord Stream on August 31, explaining that it was scheduled maintenance of a compressor station that would last 72 hours. Previously, volumes on the pipeline were reduced to 40% of capacity in June and to 20% in July.
Gazprom cut off supplies to several European countries such as Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands and Poland in late spring and reduced flows through other pipelines.
Ukraine also complicated supplies by interrupting in May the transit through territories occupied by Russian units the Donbas, from where Austria, Italy, Slovakia and several other countries in Eastern Europe were supplied.
Faced with the problem of how to secure gas before winter, with Gazprom being their main supplier, providing around 40% of needs, European governments began to look for alternatives.
The other pipes
Alternative routes to Europe that do not pass through Ukraine include the Yamal-Europe gas pipeline, which crosses Belarus and Poland to Germany.
It has a capacity of 33 billion cubic meters (“Nord Stream” has 167 billion cubic meters), about one sixth of Russian gas exports to Europe. Since the beginning of this year, the streams have been reversed to flow east between Poland and Germany. Moscow has imposed sanctions on the owner of the Polish part of “Yamal-Europe”, but according to the Polish government, Walsawa can do without the reverse gas flow.
The other suppliers
Some countries have alternative supply options to be shared where the European gas network is connected.
Germany, Europe’s biggest consumer of Russian gas, which suspended certification of Russia’s new Nord Stream 2 pipeline because of the war in Ukraine, can import gas via pipelines from Britain, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands.
Norway, Europe’s second-largest gas supplier after Russia, is increasing production to help the EU meet its goal of ending dependence on Russian fossil fuels by 2027.
The British Centrica has signed a deal with the Norwegian Equinor for additional supplies for the next three winters. Britain does not rely on Russian gas and can also export to Europe via pipelines.
There is an opportunity for Southern Europe to receive Azeri gas through the Trans-Adriatic Gas Pipeline to Italy and the Trans-Anatolian Gas Pipeline (TANAP) through Turkey.
The United States said it could supply 15 billion cubic meters. it liquefied natural gas to the EU this year.
But U.S. LNG plants are operating at full capacity, and an explosion at a major LNG export terminal in Texas will leave it idle until the end of November, creating further uncertainty.
European LNG terminals also have limited capacity for additional imports, although some countries say they are looking at ways to expand imports and storage.
Germany is among those looking to build new terminals, planning to build two in just two years.
Poland, which relies on Russia for about 50 percent of its gas consumption, or about 10 billion cubic meters, said it could supply gas through two connections with Germany. A new pipeline with a capacity equal to the annual consumption of Warsaw, connecting Poland and Norway, will open in October. A new gas link between Poland and Slovakia was also commissioned last week – connecting the gas systems of the two neighboring countries for the first time.
Spain has said it wants to revive a project to build a third gas link across the Pyrenees, but France favors floating LNG terminals because they can be done faster and cheaper than a new pipeline.
The other options
Several countries can fill the gaps left by gas by turning to importing electricity through interconnections from their neighbors or by increasing electricity generation from nuclear, renewables, hydropower or coal.
Nuclear availability is declining in Belgium, Britain, France and Germany, with plants facing outages as they age, are decommissioned or phased out. Opportunities to increase hydropower production are also limited by low river levels caused by the record drought.
Europe is trying to switch from coal to meet climate targets, but some coal plants have been switched back from mid-2021 due to a surge in gas prices.
Energy ministers agreed that all EU countries must voluntarily reduce energy consumption by 15% from August to March compared to their average annual use in 2017-2021 and introduced targets for mandatory recharging of gas storage.
The Netherlands has announced that it will resume use of its Groningen gas field in the event of a shutdown of Russian supplies to help its neighbours. The deposit was frozen due to high seismic risks.
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