Canadian sanctions against Russia | Quebec is caught up in the European energy crisis against its will

Quebec is unwillingly caught up in the European energy crisis triggered by Russia’s military offensive against Ukraine. A key piece of equipment for Russian natural gas exports to Germany is stuck in the Montreal area due to Canadian sanctions against Vladimir Putin’s regime. Overview of the case in a few questions.

Posted at 6:00 am

Julian Arsenal

Julian Arsenal
The press

what is the situation ?

Since last week, the capacity of the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline, which runs under the Baltic Sea to Germany, has been reduced to 40% of the usual level. The reason ? Gazprom, a Russian state-owned company, says it is unable to salvage an imposing turbine to allow compressors to increase natural gas volume in the 1,200-kilometer pipeline. This turbine is at Siemens Energy’s Quebec facilities in Dorval because its engine needs a facelift.

“For technical reasons, these turbines can only be overhauled at Siemens in Montreal,” the German giant confirms in an email to The press. “These are aeroderivative gas turbines, made in Canada. »

Without this equipment, the volume reduction in the 1,200-kilometer pipeline is inevitable, says Gazprom. Berlin, which imports 35% of its natural gas from Russia, sees it as more of a ploy to drive up prices.

Why is it hanging here?

The Trudeau government has not offered a specific explanation. Gazprom is on Canada’s list of companies affected by Canadian sanctions, which have multiplied since the start of the armed conflict in Ukraine.


PHOTO KRISZTIAN BOCSI, BLOOMBERG ARCHIVE

Gas turbines are huge machines. A turbine is shown in a German Siemens factory.

In addition, the type of turbine in question belongs to the goods and technologies that are not allowed to be exported to Russian territory. Although it is the State Department that is responsible for the application of the Law on Special Economic Measuresall questions were directed to the Office of the Secretary for Natural Resources, Jonathan Wilkinson.

His spokesman Keean Nembhard says talks are underway with Germany to try to “find a solution”.

“We will not stop imposing heavy sanctions on the regime [de Vladimir] Putin as long as his unwarranted invasion continues, and we will continue to support our European friends and allies to work to stabilize energy markets,” he wrote in an email.

Is Canada right to act this way?

Regulatory law expert Mark Warner of Toronto-based law firm Maaw Law wonders if Ottawa is going a little too far. In this case, the lawyer emphasizes, the sanctions are intended to harm Russia, but they will also affect Europeans – Canada’s allies.

“Why should we impose sanctions on a turbine that transports natural gas from Russia to Germany if it doesn’t affect us? asks Mr. Warner in a telephone interview.

Furthermore, the lawyer adds, there is no European embargo on Russian natural gas. In his opinion, Ottawa should instead target people and companies doing business in the country. However, the Trudeau government has not been very vocal on the issue, it turns out The press last March.

Is there a resolution?

We can find a solution, believes Richard Ouellet, a specialist in international law and a professor at Laval University. the Regulations on special economic measures (Russia). can be changed by a meeting of the Council of Ministers, he said. No need to remind Parliament.


PHOTO SUPPLIED BY LAVAL UNIVERSITY

Richard Ouellet is a specialist in international law and a professor at Université Laval.

“If there are major issues for a Canadian partner, I imagine we can address that issue,” believes Mr. Ouellet. There is some political leeway, I think. But according to current rules, Siemens cannot take out the turbine. »

Mr. Ouellet is also surprised that the German multinational has not found another way to achieve its goals. For example, Siemens Canada could have sent the turbine to Siemens in Germany, explains the expert. Delivery to the Russian giant could have happened later.

“The turbine can be pulled out in a thousand ways,” he explains. Something is unspoken somewhere. »

Learn more

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    In 2017, Siemens announced an investment of approximately $111 million in its Dorval facility to conduct research and development.

    GOVERNMENT OF QUEBEC

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