Russian state energy giant Gazprom announced Wednesday that it "cannot guarantee good functioning of Nord Stream pipeline" to Germany, saying it's still as yet unclear and unknown whether a "critical" turbine engine would be returned from repair in Canada. This two days after Nord Stream halted natural gas flow on July 11 for scheduled maintenance - with all eyes to be on the July 22nd scheduled day that gas is supposed to come back online, or maybe not - based on the new Gazprom statement. Europe, and Germany in particular is on edge over fears Vladimir Putin plans to 'weaponize' the pipeline, using the maintenance as cover to halt gas to Germany indefinitely in retribution for the EU's far-reaching anti-Russia sanctions.
A crucial component to the ensuring the pipeline's safe operation, Gazprom says, has been held up in Canada at the Siemens Energy facility in Montreal which is the only place in the world capable of servicing and repairing it. But in being in Canada, the gas-turbine engines which had been used for over a decade to pressurize the Nord Stream pipeline, have fallen under Canadian sanctions crosshairs.
JUST IN - Russia's Gazprom cannot guarantee the operation of the Nord Stream 1 natural gas pipeline to Germany anymore. pic.twitter.com/2JvnzFCAuc— Disclose.tv (@disclosetv) July 13, 2022
The Monday shutoff came after already last month Gazprom reduced deliveries through Nord Stream 1 to Germany by 60%, citing technical problems in urgent need of repair and updates.
The fresh Gazprom statement casting doubt on Nord Stream's reopening was issued despite the Canadian government softening its positions on the sanctions.
"Global Affairs Canada granted the German industrial giant Siemens Energy an exemption under Canada’s Russia sanctions for two years," The Globe and Mail is reporting.
This authorizes Siemens to to move forward with the repairs and send the turbines.
But Gazprom is still expressing uncertainty over Canadian sanctions, apparently taking the opportunity to instill more fear and anxiety in German officials:
In a statement Wednesday on Twitter, Gazprom said it "does not possess any documents that would enable Siemens to get the gas turbine engine... out of Canada."
It added that "in these circumstances, it appears impossible to reach an objective conclusion on further developments regarding the safe operation" of a compressor station at the Russian end of the pipeline.
Since the latest interruption in European gas supply, EU natural gas prices have soared to triple the cost of US natural gas (hindered of course by the fact that the Freeport LNG Terminal is closed)...
On Wednesday Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the sanctions waiver for the turbines "a very difficult decision" - but said it was necessary to go around the government's own sanctions in this case as it would end up hurting European allies and their populations.
"The sanctions are aimed at Putin and his enablers and aren’t designed to harm our allies and their populations," Trudeau said in a press briefing. The Zelensky government in Ukraine has lately been lobbying hard for Trudeau to maintain a strict line against circumventing the sanctions, apparently to no avail.