Siemens applied for turbine export permit to get advice from Ottawa on Russia sanctions


An executive at the Montreal company that repaired a turbine for a Russian gas pipeline earlier this year says it applied for an export permit to get “advice” from Ottawa.

Controversy erupted this summer after Canada approved delivery of the turbine to Germany, despite its simultaneous attempts to punish Russian companies during the invasion of Ukraine.

Siemens Energy Canada Ltd. said it halted its scheduled maintenance work on a turbine on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, owned by Russian state energy company Gazprom, when Canada imposed economic sanctions on Russia in March.

The company’s chief executive, Arne Wohlschlegel, told a parliamentary committee that the company informed the RCMP of its situation as soon as the sanctions were put in place, “so I assume the knowledge was shared with the government”.

Two months later, he said, the German government notified Siemens headquarters and the Canadian government that an energy crisis was unfolding in Germany that would “affect several countries in Europe.”

The Montreal subsidiary then applied for an export permit that would exempt it from breaching Canada’s sanctions regime in order to obtain “appropriate advice” from Global Affairs Canada on whether to go ahead with before.

He didn’t lobby the government about the turbines, Wohlschlegel said, or hire a consultancy to do it.

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly, who signed a two-year export permit in July, told the Foreign Affairs Committee earlier in her study of the controversy that Canada did so to alleviate energy problems. from Europe.

The government also considered the potential impact on jobs in Montreal, according to a memo to Joly that the government filed in court as part of its response to a legal challenge to the Ukrainian World Congress decision.

“We never said jobs could be at risk,” Wohlschlegel said. And the labor involved in maintenance represents “a fraction of a percent” of overall income in Montreal, he added.

Wohlschlegel said turbines should be serviced about every 25,000 hours of operation, or every three or four years.

Turbines sent to Montreal for repair were expected to have accumulated about that many hours of use, he said, and the company’s Montreal facility is the only place in the world where turbines can be repaired.

Siemens delivered the first repaired turbine to Germany in July, but the part was not used as Gazprom refused to provide the import documents needed to bring it into Russia, he said.

The turbine would normally have been sent directly to Russia for use at a compressor station there. Wohlschlegel said the company understood that sending him to Germany was more “the instruction of the Canadian government.”

He said he could not answer questions about the evolution of Gazprom’s relationship with the company, because while the work is taking place in Montreal, the contracts belong to another subsidiary of Siemens Energy in the United Kingdom.

And he said the company had “no position” on whether Canada should revoke the license for five other turbines that are in Montreal, for which he said no work was currently in progress. Classes.

At the end of the committee meeting, the Conservatives announced they would ask the committee to report back to the House of Commons urging the government to “immediately revoke” the additional permits.

The Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline, which is normally responsible for transporting a significant amount of natural gas to Europe from Russia, has stopped working after a major rupture.

European Union leaders said the leaks in the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines were caused by deliberate acts of sabotage. Russia denied any blame.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has threatened to completely cut off energy flows to Europe if the West attempts to cap the prices of Russian energy exports.