MOSCOW (Reuters) -Gazprom Chief Executive Alexei Miller on Wednesday said Western sanctions mean Siemens Energy is unable to carry out regular maintenance on equipment for the Nord Stream 1 natural gas pipeline, Interfax news agency reported.
Periodic replacement of some equipment, such as turbines, is needed to ensure the smooth transport of gas. Its state of repair has kept gas markets on red alert for weeks as fear mounts in the West that Russia will completely cut off supplies to Europe during the peak demand winter months.
Gazprom has cited faulty or delayed equipment as the main reason for a reduction of deliveries via Nord Stream. The Kremlin said on Tuesday that only sanctions prevented Nord Stream 1 from working at full capacity.
"Our opponents have issued so many sanction documents that they created a situation, which could be called sanctions confusion," Miller was quoted as saying by Interfax.
"And today Siemens has practically no opportunity to provide regular major maintenance of our gas-pumping equipment. Siemens simply has nowhere to carry out this work."
Siemens Energy, which normally services the turbines, said earlier on Wednesday it was not involved in the maintenance work being carried out by Gazprom at the compressor station.
In response to Miller's comments, Siemens Energy said it "cannot confirm these statements" and that maintenance is "explicitly excluded" from sanctions.
"Our technicians are ready to assist our customers with maintenance work if requested and ordered," Siemens Energy added.
The latest maintenance has halted gas flows through Nord Stream 1 from Russia to Germany until Sept. 3.
(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; additional reporting by Christoph Steitz; additional writing by Tom SimsEditing by David Goodman and Barbara Lewis)