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Gas Flows via Nord Stream 1 Resume Briefly in Pressure Tests

BERLIN, July 19 (Reuters) – Gas through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline showed a rise in flows late on Tuesday ahead of the scheduled end of annual maintenance on Thursday, as the operator carried out pressure tests.

Hourly flows through the pipeline, the main source of natural gas fuelling Europe’s largest economy, Germany, have been at zero since July 11, when 10 days of maintenance began.

The planned outage on the biggest single pipeline carrying Russian gas to Germany is expected to end at 0600 CET (0400 GMT) on July 21. It transports 55 billion cubic metres (bcm) a year of gas under the Baltic Sea.

Data for 2021 and 2020 show that gas flows via Nord Stream 1 resumed on time after the end of the maintenance periods.

But there have been fears among governments and business that flows will not restart straight away if a repaired turbine being sent from Canada is not installed in time and after Gazprom declared force majeure to some European customers, excusing it from contractual obligations.

Data from the operator’s website showed flows of 23,681 kwh/h between 1600 and 1700 CET (1400 and 1600 GMT). A similar spike took place two hours before, when flows leapt from zero to 27,137 kwh/h for the hour from 1200 GMT before falling back to zero.

Nord Stream’s operator said gas volumes seen on the company’s flows website are related to technically required pressure equalisation ahead of the end of maintenance.

Nominations – the volume of gas requested – remained at zero despite the uplift in physical flows, the pipeline’s data feed showed.

Earlier on Tuesday, sources told Reuters that flows would likely resume at the end of the maintenance period, but at less than the pipeline’s total capacity of some 160 million cubic metres a day.

Europe has been preparing for the possibility that gas flows through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline will not resume or will flow at curtailed rates of 40% of capacity, a level implemented on June 14, with Moscow blaming delayed equipment repairs.

Any extension of the shut-down to zero flows would throw Europe’s plans to refill storage into disarray and heighten a gas crisis that has prompted emergency measures from governments and painfully high bills for consumers.

Reporting by Thomas Escritt and Reuters; writing by Nina Chestney; Editing by Sarah Marsh, Victoria Waldersee, David Evans and Barbara Lewis

Source: Reuters