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European gas buyers show brief interest in shuttered Nord Stream gas

·3-min read
FILE PHOTO: Pipes at the landfall facilities of the 'Nord Stream 1' gas pipline in Lubmin

(Reuters) -German buyers on Monday briefly reserved capacity to receive Russian gas via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline for the first time since the line was shut down three weeks ago, German data showed, but this was later revised and no gas has been flowing.

It was not immediately clear why buyers had submitted requests for capacity when Russia has given no indication since it shut the line that it would restart any time soon.

Russia, which had supplied about 40% of the European Union's gas before the Ukraine conflict, has said it closed the pipeline because Western sanctions hindered operations. European politicians say that is a pretext and accuse Moscow of using energy as a weapon.

Nord Stream AG told Reuters it could not confirm the submitted nominations, or requests for gas, via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline for Monday.

Early on Monday, requests for gas - known as nominations - had emerged to ship gas via the German pipelines which connect Nord Stream 1 to end users.

But a spokesperson for German pipeline operator Gascade said the nominations had been "renominated" at zero, which effectively means there is no gas flowing via Nord Stream 1.

Nominations were visible on the websites of the German pipelines connecting Nord Stream 1 to end users, while the website of the Nord Stream 1 operator showed no nomination requests as of early Monday.

Nord Stream 1's shutdown has exacerbated Europe's worst ever gas supply crisis, with energy prices soaring and German importers even discussing possible rationing.

Nord Stream 1 is by far the biggest Russian gas pipeline to Europe, carrying up to 59.2 billion cubic metres of gas per year.

Earlier this month, Gazprom’s Deputy Chief Executive Vitaly Markelov told Reuters Nord Stream 1 would not resume pumping until Siemens Energy repaired faulty equipment. Siemens Energy said at the time it could not comprehend the information provided by Gazprom.

"Our assessment is that the finding communicated to us does not represent a technical reason for stopping operation," Siemens said.

European gas prices have more than doubled from the start of the year as Russian supplies have dropped.

President Vladimir Putin on Friday denied Russia had anything to do with Europe's energy crisis, saying that if the European Union wanted more gas it should lift sanctions preventing the opening of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

Nord Stream 2, which runs almost in parallel to Nord Stream 1, was built a year ago, but Germany decided not to proceed with it just days before Russia sent its troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24.

For Sept. 19, buyers nominated for 3,652,554 kilowatt hours per hour (kwh/h) of gas via Nord Stream 1 between 8:00-9:00 CET for delivery to the OPAL gas pipeline in eastern Germany, data on the OPAL pipeline website showed.

Buyers for the NEL gas pipeline nominated 14,291,845 kwh/h of gas during the same time period, based on data from NEL.

(Reporting by Ashitha Shivaprasad in Bengaluru and Miranda Murray in Berlin; Writing by Lincoln Feast and Rachel More; Editing by Christopher Cushing, Christian Schmollinger and Jane Merriman)