The Russian Turbine Dilemma

The rendering shows the lightweight architecture of the SGT-A35 RB gas turbine. Image

Questions have arisen over the status of a Nord Stream 1 gas turbine that was recently in need of repair. The machine was sent to a Siemens Energy maintenance facility in Canada. Reportedly, the machine in question is either a Siemens Energy SGT-A35 or Siemens Energy SGT-A65. It has since been flown back to Germany. The turbine’s home is the Russian Portovaya compressor station, which is a part of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline.

Nord Stream 1 uses gas turbines to compress natural gas for shipment along its pipeline to Europe.

The turbine itself is an aeroderivative made by Siemens Energy, which acquired the design through Rolls-Royce when it sold off its industrial turbines to Siemens in 2014. The SGT-A65 TR takes advantage of the technological advances made with the aero Trent and other Rolls-Royce aviation and I&M engines. It shares significant commonality with its aero Trent 800 parent and draws on technology from the Industrial RB211 (now the SGT-A30 RB and SGT-A35 RB) gas turbine. As the name implies, an aeroderivative is based on an aviation turbine.

As of writing, the gas turbine in question has not yet been returned to Russia. The Portovaya compressor station has seven other turbines for use in compressing gas, but being a turbine down means not as much gas can be sent along the pipeline.

The situation is a little murky.  Both Siemens Energy (Germany) and Gazprom (Russia) claim that the paperwork needed for Germany to return the turbine to Russia has not been completed. Whether this is true remains an open question, as the turbine could be involved in a deeper political issue . German Economic Minister Robert Habeck said, in this regard, “Sometimes one has the impression that Russia no longer wants to take it back.”

Industrial gas turbines are a high technology item that the  Soviet Union and then the Russian government turned to Ukraine to supply.  So in the final analysis, it cannot be discounted that the Russian government might simply be irked that it is dependent on a Western machine.

Read a previous article on Zorya-Mashproekt machines here.

About Carter Palmer

Carter Palmer is an analyst at Forecast International covering small gas turbines and space.

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