Russia cuts gas supply via Nord Stream gas pipeline. First, from 167 million cubic meters per day to 100 million, and eventually up to 67 million cubic meters. The official reason is the British Industrial Turbine Company (UK) limited, which performed turbine overhaul gas compressor unit (GCU) of the compressor station (CS) Portovaya, cannot return it from repair in Canada due to the sanctions regime. This firm is a subsidiary of another British company – Siemens Energy Industrial Turbomachinery Limited, which, in turn, is part of the Siemens Energy Sector in the conglomerate of the German Siemens AG. What Britain and Canada have to do with it becomes clear given the fact that the Germans bought the turbine business of Rolls Royce Energy from the United Kingdom in 2014. The British company is just specialized in the repair of turbines. In this case, using their facilities in Canada. But the essence of the issue is not in the corporate division of labor of the Siemens conglomerate, but in Russian manipulations, which trace a far-reaching scenario.
Some necessary technical details
The Portovaya compressor station, which is the base and the only one for Nord Stream, operates eight GPUs, six of them with a capacity of 52 MW each and two with 27 MW each, with turbines manufactured by Siemens.
Let us turn to the official documents of Gazprom. According to the internal corporate standard “STO Gazprom 2-3.5-051-2006”, reserve units should be provided at the compressor station.
In addition, it is necessary to ensure uniform operation of the GPU resource. For this, an appropriate algorithm is provided in the automated control system of the compressor station. When one of the working units is stopped to perform routine maintenance, the backup immediately turns on. And so in succession. This ensures uniform operation of the resource of all GPUs, both working and standby ones.
Based on the technical documentation of the Portovaya CS, the scheme of its operation provides for six working gas compressor units plus one standby one. But in this case, the role of the backup is performed by two GPUs of lower power. On a satellite image of the Portovaya CS yellow and red contours show the location of the GPU with turbines of different capacities. Two standby turbines allow smoother regulation of the compressor station power.
Based on the operating life of the turbines, the order of their repair is established. The turbine with the used resource is dismantled, and in its place the one that was stored at the COP is mounted. The dismantled turbine is sent for overhaul, and upon return it is mounted instead of the next one requiring overhaul. And so in succession. The last turbine is returned from repair and sent for storage at the compressor station. In this way overhaul of turbines is provided without reducing the volume of gas supply through the CS. All this is fixed by internal standards and instructions.
Considering the above, Gazprom’s announcement of June 14 about the reduction of gas supply via Nord Stream looks more than strange. From eight For some reason, GPUs at the COP only work three. Which GPAs remained in operation, Gazprom did not specify. The number of turbines under repair is also not announced. But according to the regulations of Gazprom itself, only one turbine can be under repairbecause otherwise the GPA reserve at the CS will not be provided. Siemens also reports only one turbinewhich was not returned from the repair, which fully meets the standards.
Not a single specialist will believe that four Siemens turbines failed at the same time. There was no accident or fire, or a missile strike by NATO forces during the Baltops-2022 exercises on the COP. There were no FSB reports about the detention of Polish, Lithuanian, Latvian, Estonian or Finnish saboteurs in the area of Portovaya Bay either. Therefore, based on the messages and actions of Gazprom, a certain scenario can be traced. Vice Chancellor of the German Government Robert Gabek quite reasonably noted: “I got the impression that this is a political decision, and not a decision that can be justified from a technical point of view”.
Nord Stream 2: an attempt at resuscitation?
It is most likely that there is another use of gas supplies and pipelines as a hybrid weapon of the Kremlin to blackmail the EU, which started discussions on a gas embargo as part of a possible seventh package of sanctions. Taking into account the military logic of the Kremlin, and not the commercial logic of Gazprom, it is reasonable to assume that the next stage will be the shutdown of the Nord Stream gas pipeline to carry out scheduled preventive maintenance. This has already been announced on Turkish Stream from 21 to 28 June. It is significant that at the June 20 auction, Gazprom did not reserve additional capacities for transporting its gas through the Ukrainian GTS. This automatically causes subsequent price escalation and additional pressure on the European Commission.
Indeed, Nord Stream traditionally stops in July. Last year it was July 13-23, this year it is tentatively scheduled for July 11-21, but it is possible that it could be different.
It should be noted that in-pipe diagnostics is performed once a year during a shutdown of the gas pipeline. It is conducted by the famous German ROSEN Group from Lingen with headquarters in Switzerland. Taking into account the fact that the launch of the diagnostic device is carried out on the Russian coast, and the excavation is carried out in German, in Greifswald, with further processing of the obtained data in Germany, then, probably, “Gazprom may find “technical problems” in the section located in Russian territorial waters or in the coastal section with external control of the gas pipeline. And then Rostekhnadzor will traditionally ban the use of Nord Stream for some time to eliminate the identified problems.” Gas prices in Europe will jump even more, which, again, is in the hands of the Kremlin both from a commercial point of view – you sell less and get more, and from a political point of view – a preemptive strike against the EU’s intentions to include a gas embargo in the seventh package of sanctions.
“Gazprombearing in mind the need to fulfill its obligations to European customers, will pathetically announce the “saving option” – “Nord Stream-2”. Like, exactly the same gas pipeline can successfully replace the emergency twin brother along the same route. Existing alternatives are deliberately not considered. Say, Poland has refused to import Russian gas, so Yamal-Europe cannot be involved, and Ukraine is blocking the transit of Russian gas through the Soyuz gas pipeline under the far-fetched pretext of force majeure at the Novopskov CS. Gazprom refused to increase transportation through Urengoy-Pomary-Uzhgorod even earlier, and here a (not) accidental accident happened at the Urengoy field, just like in August last year with an accident at the Novy Urengoy gas cleaning complex, which formally masked the drainage by Gazprom » the EU market.
According to the Kremlin’s logic, there is only one option left – Nord Stream 2. Germany and the European Commission will agree to this option, since gas injection into UGS facilities for the winter of 2022/2023 is under threat. Rosagitprop is already relishing the topic of a stalemate for the EU, focusing also on a serious accident that occurred in the United States at the Freeport LNG liquefied natural gas plant, from where LNG is supplied to Europe. There is also a surge in spot prices on European hubs. While in May and until mid-June, gas prices were mainly in the range of 80-100 euros per MWh, then a few days later, prices jumped to more than 120 euros/MWh (124.1 euros/MWh at the hub TTF June 17 or 1361.8 US dollars per 1000 cubic meters in a more familiar form).
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak “predicts” Europeans difficult gas years ahead, pushing them to make “unpopular decisions” and discouraging them from the topic of the gas embargo. Another “prophet” from Putin Russian representative to the EU Vladimir Chizhov promises a “catastrophe for Germany”if Nord Stream stops, of course, due to “counterproductive Western sanctions against the Russian Federation.” There is no talk of a “piano in the bushes” in the form of Nord Stream 2. Bye. But it is quite clear what they are leading up to. If, under the pressure of circumstances, the German government agrees to the launch of SP-2, then over time, after “troubleshooting” at SP-1, it will also work. In this case, Gazprom will stop transporting gas through Ukraine, despite the threat of an arbitration claim from Naftogaz of Ukraine.
That which ongoing the events are another Russian gas war against Europe, do not hide the Russian experts, who traditionally speak from pro-Gazprom positions. The EU is being scared by gas prices in winter from $2,000 to $3,500 per 1,000 cubic meters compared to the current over $1,300.
Behind the new gas “turbo attack” of the Kremlin there are intentions not only to revive the artificial crisis situation “Nord Stream-2”, but also to introduce additional turbulence into a cowardly and already tired of the “foreign war” Europe, finally “orbanize” Macron and quarrel Scholz with Gabek and Burbock, thereby contributing to the government crisis in Germany, preventing the EU from making a decision on the seventh package of sanctions against gas embargo. And not only.
A more far-reaching plan is being seen – a multi-crisis scenario. In addition to the food crisis in Africa, Russia wants to push the “cold spell” scenario in Europe, which did not work last winter.
Since the US and NATO are cowardly on the issue of military unblocking of the Black Sea, the Kremlin believes that Germany and the EU will show the same cowardice on the gas front. Moreover, the “ruble ultimatum” of the Kremlin, although not fully, worked. This gives him the confidence to continue on the path of raising rates and blackmail. And over time, as autumn approaches and the elections to the American Congress, when Washington will not be up to Europe and Ukraine, it will be possible to raise the question point-blank about the lifting of EU sanctions, just as it is already being done in the context of “Russia’s readiness to help overcome the food crisis » subject to a revision of the sanctions regime.
For greater persuasiveness, the Kremlin may instruct Gazprom to stop transporting gas through Ukraine under one pretext or another. As the events with the transit of Kazakh oil through the oil pipeline of the Caspian Pipeline Consortium show, the Kremlin has enough imagination in inventing an artificial pretext. Moldova will soon become the object of a gas attack – cutting off gas supplies – in the context of attempts to obtain candidate status in the EU.
In order to further chaoticize the West, “technical incidents” can “suddenly” occur on transatlantic fiber optic links between Europe and North America. The activity of the Main Directorate of Deep-Sea Research of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation at great depths in the North Atlantic has already been repeatedly noticed in recent years. The commander of the British Armed Forces, Admiral Tony Radakin, like his predecessor Air Chief Marshal Stuart Peach a few years ago, drew attention to the menacing Russian underwater activity in the cold waters of the Atlantic.
Will the multi-crisis scenario succeed? Neither the Kremlin nor Gazprom is sure about this, but the algorithm of malicious actions for the energy security of the EU and Ukraine is already visible. Bluff, probing, disguise – these methods from the arsenal of the FSB since the days of the KGB and the NKVD are already in action, we will soon see how blackmail and provocation work again.