FILE PHOTO: Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is pictured during an interview with Reuters in his office in Berlin, Germany, November 15, 2018. Picture taken November 15, 2018. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch/File Photo

In the dispute over the lack of natural gas deliveries from Russia, former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder blames Siemens for the lack of a turbine for the Nord Stream 1 pipeline. “The turbines that you need to get the gas into the pipeline at all come from Siemens and have to be serviced regularly,” he told the magazine “Stern” and the broadcasters RTL/ntv. “But Siemens brought the much-discussed turbine from the maintenance department in Canada to Mülheim an der Ruhr. I don’t understand why she is there and not in Russia.”

The fact that only a fifth of the normal amount of gas is currently flowing through the pipeline – 30 million cubic meters per day – is due to technical reasons, Schröder explained. “It would be 60 million, twice as much, if only turbine number 2 were available. That is Siemens’ responsibility, if I see it correctly.”

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Gazprom recently reduced deliveries through the older Nord Stream 1 pipeline to 20 percent of maximum capacity. The company justifies this with repair work on a turbine that would be hampered by the sanctions of western countries.

According to Schröder, there is no discernible political motivation for the curtailed deliveries. During talks with those responsible for the energy industry in Moscow, he learned: “There has been no political announcement from the Kremlin to throttle the gas flow.” In the interview, Schröder reported on another conversation last week with President Vladimir Putin.

Schröder is the chairman of the board of directors at Nord Stream 2. He has long been criticized for his closeness to Putin and the Russian oil and gas industry. After the start of the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine, the German government ruled out the commissioning of Nord Stream 2.

“If you don’t want to use Nord Stream 2, you have to face the consequences. And they will also be huge in Germany,” said Schröder. Anyone who heats with gas is already feeling the effects.

“It’s uncomfortable for us sitting here, but it’s manageable. But for a lot of people who have to reckon with every cent, it will be really hard,” Schröder continued. “And then people in Germany will ask: Why are we actually doing without the gas from the Nord Stream 2 pipeline? Why?”

The turbine for the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline is still in Germany. Chancellor Olaf Scholz was supposed to visit Siemens Energy in Mülheim an der Ruhr on Wednesday. The turbine, which has been serviced in Canada, is ready there for onward transport to Russia, as the energy technology group announced on Tuesday. Siemens Energy had repeatedly denied the Russian account of being responsible for the delays.

In an interview with the Canadian newspaper “The Globe and Mail”, Scholz defended the delivery, which is controversial because of the circumvention of sanctions. “By delivering the turbine, we blew up Putin’s bluff,” he said. “He can no longer use this pretext and no longer bring up technical reasons for the lack of gas deliveries.”

Scholz defended Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was under pressure because of the turbine deliveries. “For me, the criticism of Justin Trudeau and his government is completely unfounded,” he said. “The decision to supply the turbine is hardly a favor to Gazprom, but rather a strong sign of support for Germany and Europe.”

After the Chancellor’s tour of the turbines, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) will make her inaugural visit to Canada on Wednesday – unusually not in the capital Ottawa, but in Montreal, the hometown of Foreign Minister Melanie Joly.

The turbine was serviced in the metropolis of the province of Quebec, but a visit by the minister to the Siemens Energy plant there is not planned.

The maintenance and shipping of the Nord Stream 1 turbine had caused a stir and pressure on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Canada in the past few weeks. With the extradition, Ottawa circumvented its own sanctions against Moscow and thereby also angered the Ukrainian leadership. According to Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck, the turbine has been in Germany since July 18.

Since June, Russia has cut back gas supplies via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline in the Baltic Sea. The energy company Gazprom justified this with a turbine from Siemens Energy that was missing due to the sanctions.

Last week, with reference to further repair work, the company cut gas supplies again so that only 20 percent of the maximum possible volume is now flowing through the pipes. In Europe, the justification is considered a pretext.

According to the Russian energy company Gazprom, the turbine is important in order to build up the necessary pressure to pump the gas through. Gazprom has repeatedly accused its contractual partner Siemens Energy of not having sent the necessary documents and information to repair the machine. Siemens Energy had denied Gazprom’s allegations.