Canada’s government said it would permit the return of a turbine to Germany that’s needed to operate a key Russian pipeline, a step intended to help Berlin ease a natural-gas shortage that has sent prices soaring but one that was taken over the objections of Ukraine.
The turbine had been sent to Canada for repairs, but its return had been held up by sanctions against Russia.
Russia last month slashed natural gas flows through the pipeline, Nord Stream 1, which connects Germany’s northern coast with Russian gas fields, saying Canada had not returned the turbine “in due time.” Siemens Energy, the Munich-based maker of the turbine, largely confirmed a statement from Gazprom, the Russian gas giant, that the turbine was essential to providing the amount of gas normally sent to Germany.
Germany, Europe’s largest economy and Russia’s biggest European gas customer, has for years relied on Russia for most of its gas. It quickly shelved plans for another Russian gas pipeline, Nord Stream 2, after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February, but it continues to buy Russian natural gas.
Germany’s economy minister, Robert Habeck, had been working to get the turbine returned — even making a public appeal — and had warned that the country was in a “gas crisis” that could worsen in coming months.
Canada’s minister of natural resources, Jonathan Wilkinson, said in a statement Saturday that his government would grant “a time-limited and revocable” permit to allow for the turbine’s return to Germany.
He said the decision to effectively exempt the turbine from sanctions was taken after discussing the matter with allies, and was intended to support Europe’s access to “reliable and affordable energy as they continue to transition away from Russian oil and gas.”
“Absent a necessary supply of natural gas, the German economy will suffer very significant hardship,” he said in a statement.
Ukraine’s government called on Canada to reconsider the decision, saying in a statement that it amounted to changing sanction terms to suit “the whims of Russia” and predicting “it will strengthen Moscow’s sense of impunity.” The chief executive of Ukraine’s national gas monopoly told state media on Sunday that the decision set a “very bad precedent.”
Wilkinson said in his statement that Canada was “unwavering” in its determination to continue punishing Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.
The Nord Steam 1 pipeline is scheduled to be shut down for 10 days starting Monday for annual maintenance. The dispute over the turbine had raised fears that it might remain offline for longer.