Standing before a hulking metal turbine that normally propels natural gas from Russia to Germany through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany rejected Russia’s contention that technical problems were behind the sharp curtailment in gas flows to Germany.
He said the one reason the machine had not yet been returned to Russia after undergoing maintenance work is that Gazprom, Russia’s state energy giant, didn’t want it back.
The turbine, which is at the center of a dispute between Germany and Gazprom, was on display Wednesday at a news event within the western city of Mülheim an der Ruhr, where its has been stored because it was returned from refurbishment in Canada.
Gazprom and Vladimir V. Putin, Russia’s president, have blamed Siemens Energy, the turbine’s manufacturer, for delays returning it to Russia. They’ve repeatedly cited the necessity for “required documents and clarifications,” and said that its absence was the rationale it slashed gas flows to twenty percent of capability.
After weeks of releasing only terse responses, the German side seemed intent on calling the bluff of Gazprom and Mr. Putin.
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“It is clear that nothing, nothing in any respect stands in the way in which of the further transport of this turbine and its installation in Russia. It might be transported and used at any time,” Mr. Scholz told reporters. “There isn’t a technical reason in any respect for the reduction of gas supplies.”
European officials say Russia is cutting back its gas deliveries to punish Europe for its opposition to the war in Ukraine. In mid-June, Gazprom in the reduction of the quantity of gas it was delivering to Germany through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to only 40 percent of possible capability. Last week, it reduced the quantity again by half.
Germany still relies on Russia to fulfill a few third of its natural gas needs, down from greater than half before the beginning of the war, but still enough to go away the country reeling from the cuts. It’s scrambling to store up enough of the fuel before demand rises in winter, in hopes of staving off rationing and shutdowns of key industries if Russia were to chop off supplies entirely.
Gas storage facilities in Germany were 69 percent full as of Wednesday, but officials told corporations and residents to start reducing their energy usage as much as possible while the weather was still warm. Nearly half of all homes in Germany are heated with gas, and households, together with essential infrastructure equivalent to hospitals and rescue services, might be prioritized within the event of shortages.
Mr. Putin has suggested that Germany could solve its gas problem by opening the second pipeline that was mothballed days before Russia invaded Ukraine, Nord Stream 2.
That proposal was echoed by Gerhard Schröder, the previous German chancellor who stays near Mr. Putin despite being outcast by his own political party, the Social Democrats, and plenty of Germans. In an interview with the German newsweekly Stern, Mr. Schröder, who met with the Russian president in Moscow last week, also said the Kremlin was open to talks to finish the war, given that Ukraine give up its claim to Crimea — which Russia annexed in 2014 — in addition to its aspirations to hitch NATO.
Asked in regards to the prospect of restarting Nord Stream 2, Mr. Scholz stifled fun, stating that its twin pipeline running under the Baltic Sea, Nord Stream 1, was already being underused, as were other overland links through Ukraine, in addition to one through Belarus and Poland — that Russia had sanctioned.
“There’s enough capability with Nord Stream 1,” he said. “All of the contracts that Russia has concluded for the entire of Europe might be fulfilled with the assistance of this pipeline.”
The reduced flows of natural gas have caused prices in Europe to leap to record highs. On Wednesday they remained about double what they were in mid-June, when Russia began restricting flows through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline.
Christian Bruch, the pinnacle of Siemens Energy, who appeared with Mr. Scholz, said his company was in regular talks with Gazprom over the problem of the turbine and it was desperate to return it in order that other Siemens turbines utilized in the pipeline may be taken for maintenance.
However the Russian company has a “different view” of the situation, he said, without elaborating.
“This turbine is able to go immediately,” Mr. Scholz said. “If Russia doesn’t take up this turbine now, it shows the entire world that not taking it’s just an excuse to cut back gas supplies to Germany.”