Will the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline remain closed? Tomorrow is the day of truth

1. Why is tomorrow so exciting?

On Thursday, the main gas supply from Russia to Germany, Nord Stream 1, should have been put back into operation. Annual maintenance usually lasts ten days and will be over by tomorrow.

But now there are fears that Russia will take the opportunity to stop sending gas through the pipeline for an extended period. That would make the gas crisis even bigger than it already is. The consequences of this are difficult to assess.

2. If the gas doesn’t flow tomorrow, what then?

This does not necessarily mean the worst, explains Hans van Cleef, ABN Amro’s energy expert. “At the end of the day — before you fill the stocks — it’s not going to stand or fall in a day.” But if the gas supply does not start even after days or weeks, we are really stuck in the baked pears.

Without – or with much less – Russian gas, it will be even more difficult to fill supplies for the winter. According to Van Cleef, we must then (continue to) focus on two routes: 1: get more gas from another place, for example in the form of liquefied natural gas (LNG). 2: Use less gas.

In fact, we need to make sure we use as little gas as possible right now. So we can use the ‘little’ gas that we get in to fill the stocks for the winter.

3. Use even less: how?

The Executive Director of the International Energy Agency, Fatih Birol, indicates five measures it must be taken immediately to avoid a potential disaster.

  1. The industry must be able to stop production and make gas available for a fee.
  2. Minimize gas consumption when generating electricity. So: more coal, wind, solar and nuclear energy.
  3. More cooperation between energy companies.
  4. Make common emergency plans within the EU.
  5. Households should consume (much) less.

The latter recommendation has already been adopted by the government. Anyway: households have been encouraged to consume less energy, for example by taking shorter showers and lowering the thermostat. But if that is not enough, we may well meet the same fate as the Germans.

In the video below, reporter Maarten Veeger explains what measures we are all taking to have enough gas this winter.

The eastern neighbors are currently in phase 2 of their gas crisis plan. The main aim of this is for gas companies to charge higher prices to businesses to reduce demand.

In the Netherlands we are not that far yet, we are ‘only’ in phase 1 of the gas crisis. All measures to reduce consumption are still voluntary. Energy and Climate Minister Rob Jetten is working on more convincing measures to help companies save.

4. Oh yes, what measures?

For example, rewarding companies that voluntarily buy less gas. But penalizing companies that use natural gas is also an option. All these measures is in the Gas Protection and Recovery Plan (BHG).

That plan is there for emergency situations in connection with the gas supply. The aim is to ensure that households and hospitals can continue to use gas for as long as possible. And the end justifies the means: if necessary, even companies will be taken off the gas.

And the following applies: long distance, fast home. And therefore the large consumers of gas are the first to be switched off. These so-called ‘unprotected customers’ are removed from the gas in order of who consumes the most.

And that is what they are worried about at the chemical company Yara’s headquarters in Norway. The company has a fertilizer factory in Sluiskil in Zeeland and produces already less than it could due to the high gas price in Europe.

5. How likely is the doomsday scenario that no more gas comes from Russia at all?

The most likely scenario, most experts believe, is that there will be considerably less gas from Russia for the time being, but that the tap will not be turned off completely. This is logical, because in recent months, due to the skyrocketing gas price, the Russians have earned more than ever from exporting oil and gas, while the amount exported was much lower.

But now everyone is aware that all scenarios are conceivable. “You can see that the German government has lost confidence in all the stories and deficits from Russia and Gazprom,” said Jilles van den Beukel, an energy expert at the Hague Center for Strategic Studies. “Something always happens. One time a pipeline, the other time a compressor. Then again a production station. And yes, that’s the sum.”

6. Is there anything positive to report in this file?

Yes, according to the Reuters news agency’s sources, the Russians would ‘just’ tomorrow start the transport again gas through the pipeline.

However, even if that is the case and we go into winter with sufficient gas, it will still be quite a challenge to have sufficient gas supply during the winter. There will be a shortage of gas until the winter of 2025 to 2026, ABN Amro expects. So prices will remain high for years to come.

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