German Scholz says Russia has no reason to delay turbine return

  • Turbine caught in an energy impasse between the West and Russia
  • Scholz visits the Siemens Energy plant where the turbine is stored
  • Said the turbine is ready to be sent back to Russia
  • Kremlin: documentation on turbines still missing
  • Kremlin: Nord Stream 2 could supply gas this year

MUELHEIM AN DER RUHR, Germany, Aug 3 (Reuters) – German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Wednesday Russia had no reason to delay the return of a gas turbine for the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline which had been serviced in Canada but which has since been blocked. in Germany in a growing energy impasse.

Standing next to the turbine during a factory tour at Siemens Energy (ENR1n.DE) in Muelheim an der Ruhr, Scholz said it was fully operational and could be returned to Russia at any time – provided that Moscow is willing to take it back.

The fate of the 12-metre (13-yard) long turbine has been closely watched as European governments accused Russia of limiting gas supplies under false pretenses in revenge for Western sanctions following the invasion of Ukraine in February.

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Moscow denies doing so and cited problems with the turbine as the reason for lower gas flows through Nord Stream 1, which has been reduced to 20% capacity.

On Wednesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov pushed back against Scholz’s remarks, blaming the lack of documentation for delaying the turbine’s return to Russia.

He also dangled the prospect of Europe receiving gas through the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, a Moscow-led project that was blocked by the West as Russia sent troops to Ukraine. Read more

The movements of the turbine had been shrouded in secrecy and its whereabouts were unknown until Tuesday evening when the Chancellor’s visit to Siemens Energy was announced.

“The turbine is working,” Scholz said, telling reporters the purpose of his visit was to show the world that the turbine was working and “there was nothing mystical to observe here.”

“It’s quite clear and simple: the turbine is there and can be delivered, but someone has to say ‘I want to have it'”.

For Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly, whose government has been criticized for returning the turbine in violation of its own sanctions, the current standoff was worth illustrating the Kremlin’s goal.

“We called it a bluff,” she said when meeting her German counterpart Annalena Baerbock in Montreal. “It is now clear that Putin is militarizing energy flows across Europe.”

Even if Russia takes over the turbine, Scholz warned that Germany could face further disruption further down the line and supply contracts may not be honored.

He also said it “may make sense” for Germany to keep its three remaining nuclear power plants operating beyond a scheduled shutdown at the end of 2022, a policy shift that has gained support given the risk of a total cut off of Russian gas. in winter.

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A senior Kremlin-controlled Gazprom official (GAZP.MM) said the delivery of the turbine after maintenance was not in accordance with the contract and that it was sent to Germany without Russia’s consent. Read more

Alongside Scholz, Siemens Energy CEO Christian Bruch confirmed there were ongoing talks with Gazprom, “but no agreement”.

Collapsing gas supplies and soaring prices have triggered recession warnings for Germany’s economy, Europe’s largest, and raised fears of energy shortages and rationing as winter approaches .

After being forced to bail out utility Uniper (UN01.DE) when it became one of the first victims of the gas crisis, the Scholz government will have to change recently introduced energy reforms, sources told Reuters on Wednesday . Read more

Scholz called on Germans to prepare for rising bills and his government urged them to save energy where possible, such as taking shorter showers.

“Now is a time when we have to stand together as a country. But it’s also a time when we can show what we are capable of,” he said.

But he chose not to answer questions about his Social Democratic predecessor, former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who has come to be increasingly ridiculed in Germany for his pro-Russian views and his friendship with President Vladimir Putin.

Schroeder said Russia was ready for a negotiated settlement to end the war in an interview published Wednesday, after traveling to Russia to meet Putin last week. Read more

Putin told Schroeder that Nord Stream 2 could deliver 27 billion cubic meters of gas to Europe by the end of the year if allowed to operate, Peskov said.

“Putin explained everything in detail, and the former chancellor asked if it was possible to use Nord Stream 2 in a critical situation,” Peskov said. “Putin was not the initiator, Putin did not offer to activate it, but Putin said it was technologically possible, and this complex mechanism is ready for immediate use.”

Scholz reported that Nord Stream 2 would not be used as an alternative. “We ended the approval process, for good reason,” Scholz said. “There is enough capacity at Nord Stream 1, there is no shortage.”

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Reporting by Christoph Steitz in Muehlheim, Allison Lampert in Montreal and Ismail Shakil in Ottawa, Writing by Kirsti Knolle and Matthias Williams Editing by Madeline Chambers, Elaine Hardcastle and David Evans

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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