Russian oil and gas runs for a large part on legacy systems that have been built in Soviet times. Yes, there is a lot of shiny new stuff as well but the substructure is old and rotting away. If those were just a few pipes, it would not matter much. But here we are talking about a gigantesque pipeline system that creaks and fails at every twist and turn. Patch one bit, three others open up. It’s like fighting the Hydra. The question is not if something similar happens again, but when and how bad it will be this time. And as the old stuff gets older still, this will happen more frequently and slowly, the trust will evaporate. This is a bad quagmire for Russia.
As the biggest disruption to Russian oil flows in decades draws to a close the country’s European market looks remarkably unscathed, but its pipeline operator bears a few scars.