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What is the Nord Stream 1 gas link, why its shutdown has Europe on edge

  • Published
    12th Jul, 2022
Context

The Nord Stream 1, Germany’s main source of gas from Russia, was shut down recently for 10 days of scheduled maintenance work.

Background

What is Nord Stream 1?

  • The Nord Stream Pipeline system is a major feat of engineering, which involved complex logistics, along with suppliers and contractors from all over the world.
  • The project consists of two pipelines running almost parallel to one another through the Baltic Sea.
  • Nord Stream 1 is a 1,224 km underwater gas pipeline that runs from Vyborg in northwest Russia to Lubmin in northeastern Germany via the Baltic Sea.
  • Majority owned by the Russian energy giant Gazprom, the pipeline is the primary route through which its gas enters Germany.
  • It transports 55 billion cubic metres of gas a year, of which most goes directly to Germany, while the rest travels west and southwards through onshore links to other countries and into storage caverns.
  • Germany is Russia’s biggest European gas consumer, and most of it comes through the Nord Stream Pipeline.
  • Its share of Russian gas supplies was 55% in 2021, and currently lies at 35%.

Reliable Gas Sources

  • Bovanenkovo oil and gas condensate deposit is the main natural gas base for the Nord Stream Pipeline.
  • Bovanenkovo lies in Western Siberia (Russia), on the Yamal Peninsula, 40 kilometers from the coast of the Kara Sea and covers an area of about 1000 square kilometers.
  • Searched and estimated gas reserves there amount to 4.9 trillion cubic meters which makes the Bovanenkovo field a reliable source of natural gas for Europe.

What are Europe’s alternative sources of energy?

  • There have been growing concerns that there could be further restrictions to European gas supplies, well beyond the scheduled maintenance that has been imposed.
  • European countries rely on Russian energy for their cold winters, but now believe that Russia could weaponize their dependency as a response to their sanction due to the conflict in Ukraine.
    • If Nord Stream 1 does not resume its supply to Europe, it will not have adequate gas supply by the end of the year.
  • As an alternative source for energy, European countries have increasingly turned towards the US, from whom they purchase liquified natural gas (LNG) that comes via ships.
    • Since ship delivered gas ends up being far more expensive, there are also attempts to get non-Russian pipeline gas from Norway and Azerbaijan.

Natural gas is a lower-carbon fuel that can replace other fossil fuels in the energy mix and deliver a reliable output to complement intermittent renewable energy.       

Largest natural gas fields in Russia

  • Urengoy field – 10.9Tcm: Located in the northern West Siberia Basin, the Urengoyskoye gas and condensate field has been in production since 1978.
  • Yamburg field – 8.2Tcm: Yamburg, which is operated by Gazprom and located in Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug in Tyumen Oblast, is also the world’s third biggest natural gas field.
  • Bovanenkovo field – 4.9Tcm: Located in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, the onshore Bovanenkovo field operated by Gazprom has been in production since 2012.
  • Shtokmn field – 3.9Tcm: Discovered in 1988, the Shtokman gas and condensate field is located in the central part of the Russian sector of the Barents Sea, approximately 600km north-east of Murmansk and in water depths of ranging from 320m to 340m.
  • Zapolyarnoye field – 3.5Tcm: The Zapolyarnoye field is located in the southern part of the Taz District, 220km away from Novy Urengoy, Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Area.
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