Explanation: Fighting Nord Stream’s turbines is all about gear


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MOSCOW, July 26 (Reuters) – Disputes over a turbine that Moscow says are behind reduced gas flows through Nord Stream 1 have put a spotlight on the equipment the pipeline needs to work.

At the heart of the fight is the SGT-A65, a 12-metre-long, 20-tonne Siemens Energy (ENR1n.DE) turbine, which is to be brought back to Gazprom’s Nord Stream Portovaya compressor station after undergoing maintenance .

The turbine is stuck in transit through Germany, with Russia reporting outstanding issues over its transportation and sanctions, while Germany accuses Moscow of deliberately delaying the process.

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The Kremlin said on Tuesday that a second turbine at the compressor station had faults. Read more

Siemens Energy said maintenance of its turbines was a routine procedure and there had been no complications in the past 10 years of maintenance.

“At this stage, therefore, we do not see any link between the turbine and the gas cuts that have been put in place or announced,” he said.

WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?

President Vladimir Putin has said the West has unleashed an economic war aimed at destroying Russia and its economy, and has promised to sell Russia’s vast energy resources to Asian countries like China if European customers don’t. didn’t want to buy them.

Kremlin-controlled Gazprom is cutting capacity on Nord Stream 1, Russia’s largest gas pipeline to Germany, by 20% over what it describes as faulty equipment, including the delayed return of the turbine SGT-A65.

Germany disputes this and said the turbines were a pretext and that Moscow was using the gas as a political weapon. “They don’t even have the courage to say ‘we are at economic war with you’,” German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said on Monday.

Gazprom also shut down another Siemens Energy gas turbine at the station, citing routine maintenance and the “technical condition” of the engine.

TURBINES AND COMPRESSORS

Eight aeroderivative industrial gas turbines were originally manufactured by Rolls-Royce for the Portovaya station. Rolls-Royce’s gas turbine manufacturing business was acquired by Siemens Energy in 2014.

These turbines are needed to power centrifugal compressors known as motors, which essentially increase pressure by condensing volumes of gas to ensure smooth transport of fuel.

According to Gazprom, six of Portovaya’s gas pumping units have a capacity of 52 megawatts (MW) each, while two units have a capacity of 27 MW each.

Additionally, there are four spare turbines on site to ensure the station continues to pump if some equipment has to leave the site for maintenance, which typically happens every two to three years, a person familiar with the matter said. case.

Two of the six large units can sit idle without reducing the station’s capacity, according to a source familiar with the station’s operation.

Gazprom did not respond to repeated questions about Nord Stream 1 operations.

“Naturally, a lot of people say ‘it’s only the Russians making excuses as they pressure the European energy market,'” said Jonathan Stern, a senior researcher at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies. .

“It’s entirely possible because we don’t know enough from Siemens or Gazprom about the maintenance schedule. The problem is that neither side gives us the information we need.”

WHAT IS PORTOVAYA?

The Portovaya compressor station is located near the Russian town of Vybord, on the shores of the Gulf of Finland, where the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline enters the Baltic Sea.

The station pumps natural gas across the Baltic Sea via the 1,224 km (760 mile) Nord Stream 1 undersea route to where it makes landfall in Germany’s Greifswald. Gazprom calls Portovaya the largest compressor station in the world.

Nord Stream 1 has a design capacity of 55 billion cubic meters (bcm) per year. However, the pipeline pumped more than 59 billion m3 in 2020 and 2021 after measures were taken to increase capacity, which represents more than a third of Russia’s total gas supply to the Union. European.

Portovaya reached a daily record of almost 177 million cubic meters per day in 2020.

RUSSIAN TURBINES

Russia produces turbines with a maximum capacity of 25 megawatts.

Engineering firm Power Machines is developing two types of turbines with capacities of 65 MW and 170 MW each, he said.

The 65 MW turbine is not expected to start operating in test mode until 2024, and the other later in 2022 or 2023.

Russian Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov said in a speech to parliament earlier this month that Russia was speeding up testing of large turbines “in the interest of Russia’s power sector”.

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Reuters reporting; Editing by Jan Harvey

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