The gas pipeline is currently undergoing its routine annual maintenance, but they are concerned that after it is updated, Moscow won’t release gas.
EU officials are preparing for a huge gas crisis that may freeze entire sectors of the economy, while fears rise that the main gas pipeline through which Russian gas reaches Europe will be closed forever.
When the Nord Stream pipeline stopped delivering natural gas to Europe on Monday, a scenario in which rich European countries would have to rationalise energy usage loomed.
Analysts and officials are concerned that Russia’s Gazprom, which has previously reduced or limited gas supplies to 12 EU nations, may not activate the Nord Stream pipeline after the work is complete.
Such a measure would deepen Germany’s economic woes, with authorities in Berlin warning that energy-intensive sectors might be paid to slash spending in a ‘political nightmare scenario.
North Stream is the focus.
What happens after maintenance? After what? Ed Cox, worldwide head of LNG at ICIS, said everyone will follow.
Some analysts believe Russia won’t reopen the pipeline after the 10-day maintenance.
According to Alexander Gabuev, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, the complete suspension of gas supplies to Europe is a key tool of Russian President Vladimir Putin to create divisions in Europe over Ukraine before winter, when the gas shortage is felt most.
Gabuev: “Gas is the Kremlin’s card.”
Bruno Le Maire, France’s finance minister, said a complete shutdown of Russian gas to Europe is’most likely’ and that countries must ‘ready for that war’.
“The situation is obviously serious and we must be prepared for every possibility,” said a spokesperson for the European Commission on Monday.
Three months ago in Brussels, top officials declared a synchronised phase-out of Russian gas and a two-thirds reduction in dependence by the end of the year.