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Gazprom: Nord Stream gas link's safety depends on stranded turbine

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FILE PHOTO: A Gazprom sign is seen on the facade of a business centre in Saint Petersburg
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MOSCOW (Reuters) -Kremlin-controlled energy giant Gazprom said on Wednesday it could not guarantee the safe operation of a critical part of the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline because of doubt over the return of a turbine from Canada.

Ottawa at the weekend said it had issued a permit to allow the return of the turbine for Nord Stream 1's Portovaya compressor station.

"Gazprom does not have a single document that allows Siemens to bring back a gas turbine engine from Canada... for the Portovaya (station)," Gazprom said in a statement on Wednesday.

"In these circumstances, it is not possible to draw an objective conclusion about the further development of the situation on ensuring the safe operation of the Portovaya, which is a critical facility for the Nord Stream gas pipeline."

The German economy ministry declined to comment.

"We do not comment on Gazprom's statements," a spokesperson for the ministry said.

Canada's weekend announcement said it was issuing a "time-limited and revocable permit" to exempt the return of the equipment from its Russian sanctions and also announced new measures in response to what Moscow calls a "special military operation" in Ukraine.

A Siemens Energy spokesperson said on Wednesday its experts were "working intensively on all other formal approvals and logistics" following the political first step from Canada.

"These are processes that are subject to export and import controls. Our goal is to transport the turbine to its place of use as quickly as possible," it said.

Ukraine's energy and foreign ministries had urged Canada to reverse its decision that they said amounted to adjusting the sanctions imposed on Moscow "to the whims of Russia".

A group representing the Canadian-Ukrainian diaspora also said on Tuesday it was seeking a judicial review of the Canadian government's decision as it sought to try to stop the turbine being returned.

Last month, Russia cut gas flows to 40% of Nord Stream 1's total capacity, citing the delayed return of the turbine.

With annual capacity of more than 55 billion cubic metres, the pipeline is expected to stay idle until July 21 during 10 days of annual maintenance.

Europe fears Russia could extend the scheduled maintenance to restrict European gas supply further, throwing plans to fill storage for winter into disarray and heightening a gas crisis that has prompted emergency measures from governments and painfully high bills for consumers.

(Reporting by Reuters bureaux and Tom Kaeckenhof; editing by David Evans and Barbara Lewis)

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