MOSCOW (Reuters) -Canada sent a turbine for the Nord Stream gas pipeline to Germany by plane on July 17 after repair work had been completed, Kommersant newspaper reported on Monday, citing people familiar with the situation.
The return of the turbine from Canada to the Russian Portovaya compressor station, a crucial element of Nord Stream, has been in focus for the past month since Russian energy producer Gazprom reduced gas supplies to Germany.
Europe has experienced a reduction in Russian gas supplies amid already soaring energy costs and broader inflation after what Moscow calls a "special military operation" in Ukraine prompted sweeping Western sanctions against Russia.
Nord Stream 1 is currently undergoing planned annual maintenance, which is due to be completed on July 21 and has completely halted flows.
However, there are fears Russia could extend the work period, throwing plans to fill European gas storage for winter into disarray and heightening a crisis that has prompted emergency measures from governments and painfully high bills for consumers.
It will take another five to seven days for the turbine, serviced by Germany's Siemens Energy to reach Russia if there are no problems with logistics and customs, Kommersant reported.
The daily said the turbine will be sent from Germany by ferry and then transported by land via Helsinki. The equipment is expected to arrive in Russia around July 24, with preparation work taking another three to four days, the paper reported.
Gazprom said on Saturday it expected Siemens to meet its obligations in full when servicing gas turbines needed for the reliable operation of Nord Stream and energy shipments to Europe.
Germany's economy ministry said on Monday it could not provide details of the turbine's whereabouts.
But a spokesperson for the ministry said that the turbine was a replacement part that was meant to be used only from September, meaning its absence could not be the real reason for the fall-off in gas flows prior to the maintenance.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov redirected questions to Gazprom. Gazprom and the Russian energy ministry did not respond to requests for comment.
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said he had told Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Sunday that Ukrainians would "never accept" Canada's decision to return the turbine, saying the move violated sanctions.
(Reporting by ReutersEditing by Christopher Cushing, Kirsten Donovan)