Gazprom’s claims that the Nord Stream 1 pipeline was shut down due to faulty equipment were called into question by manufacturers Siemens Energy (Siemens).
Siemens told news agency Reuters it did not “comprehend” Gazprom’s reasoning for suspending flows on the key pipeline into Germany.
The Kremlin-backed gas giant had blamed the closure on an engine oil leak at the last turbine in operation at the Portovaya compressor station.
It was already functioning at a reduced capacity of 20 per cent, with Russia cutting flows twice since previous maintenance in July.
However, Siemens suggested that an engine oil leak was not a sufficient reason for closing Nord Stream 1.
The company said: “We cannot comprehend this new representation based on the information provided to us over the weekend. Therefore, until further notice, our assessment is that the finding communicated to us does not represent a technical reason for stopping operation. Such leaks do not normally affect the operation of a turbine and can be sealed on site.”
Meanwhile, France has pledged to send gas to Germany if needed, revealed the country’s President Emmanuel Macron yesterday.
He also said Germany stands ready to provide it with electricity, and that Europe will show solidarity in the face of an energy crisis exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The necessary conditions for France to deliver gas to Germany when needed would be finalised in the coming weeks – with Nord Stream 1 increasingly unlikely to come back online.
Macron warned that France, which had long been a net exporter of electricity, will need help from its allies because of technical problems plaguing its nuclear fleet.
Nord Stream closure follows Western sanctions
Earlier this month, the G7 reached an agreement to impose a price cap on Russian oil to slash rising revenues funding its invasion of Ukraine.
This was shortly followed by the shutdown of Nord Stream 1, reflecting a pattern in recent months of the Kremlin squeezing supplies in response to sanctions.
Alongside the cap on oil prices, France is also in favour of putting a cap on the price of pipelined gas.
He believed the continent should be buying gas at a European rather than national level, and renewed calls for EU measures to control energy prices.
The French premier also repeated calls for all to turn down air conditioners when it’s hot and to limit heating to 19 degrees this winter.
“Everyone has to do their bit,” he said.
Gas prices have dipped seven and three per cent across UK and European benchmarks today, following sharp spikes the day before when Nord Stream 1 was first halted.
However, wholesale costs remain historically elevated amid escalating fears of supply shortage this winter.
Russia typically provides the EU with 40 per cent of its gas imports, with the bloc aiming to top up storage to 90 per cent of capacity this winter.
Storage levels are currently sitting at 81 per cent.