Gazprom halts pipeline gas flow in new jitters for Europe
Russian energy giant Gazprom cut off its gas supplies to Germany via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline for maintenance work on Wednesday, further raising tensions on an already taut electricity market.
Entsog, the operator of the pipeline, announced that gas deliveries had been halted shortly before 0600 GMT.
The three-day works at a compressor station are "necessary", Gazprom has said, adding that they had to be carried out after "every 1,000 hours of operation".
But Germany's Federal Network Agency chief Klaus Mueller has called it a "technically incomprehensible" decision, warning that it was likely just a pretext by Moscow to wield energy supplies as a threat.
Experience shows that Moscow "makes a political decision after every so-called maintenance", he said, adding that "we'll only know at the beginning of September if Russia does that again".
Europe has been on edge over soaring energy prices as Russia curbed its gas deliveries in the wake of its invasion of Ukraine.
Germany, which is heavily dependent on Russian gas, has accused Moscow of using energy as a "weapon".
With winter round the corner, European consumers are staring down the barrel of huge power bills. Some countries like France have warned that rationing is a possibility.
Asked if gas supplies would resume after the three-day works were completed on Saturday, Russian government spokesman Dmitry Peskov said "there is a guarantee that, apart from technical problems caused by sanctions, nothing interferes with supplies".
Western capitals "have imposed sanctions against Russia, which do not allow for normal maintenance, repair work", he added, in what appeared to hint at a replay of an earlier round of start-stop rigmarole.