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Gazprom’s low gas storage levels fuel questions over Russia’s supply to Europe

Russia’s Gazprom emptied Western European gas storage facilities to unusually low levels before winter, adding concerns that Moscow exacerbated supply shortages and pushed prices to record levels.

Russian President Vladimir Putin again denied Moscow’s restrictions on supply to Europe this month, setting record gas prices for European energy companies not pumping enough gas into underground storage before winter. I blamed it.

However, despite low European storage levels, analysis of European gas industry data shows that the biggest shortage is sites owned or controlled by Russia’s state-owned gas monopoly Gazprom, critics squeeze Europe’s energy supply. We are increasingly pointing out attempts to do so.

Domenicantonio De Giorgio, an adjunct professor at the University of Catlica del Sacro Cuore in Milan, who analyzed data from the industry group Gas Infrastructure Europe (GIE), said:

“Putin and Gazprom continue to say that they have offered all the long-term contracts with their customers. Well, they supplied their customers, but they didn’t supply themselves,” he says. I did.

According to GIE data, in countries where Gazprom does not own storage facilities, such as France and Italy, the level of gas in storage has reached near normal levels during this period.

With the exception of sites managed by Gazprom, European gas storage is within a five-year average and the industry defines it as a relatively comfortable supply position. However, including facilities managed by Gazprom, the overall level in Europe is much lower, slightly above 75% compared to 85-95% for each of the last five years.

Gazprom has an impact on almost one-third of the total gas storage in Germany, Austria and the Netherlands.

Gazprom did not respond to requests for comment, but consistently states that it has met all long-term contracts with its customers this year.

However, Gazprom critics say that allowing the decline of storage facilities is a subtle but highly effective effort to affect energy prices in Europe, which threatens the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. believe.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel told EU leaders last week that Russia had promised to increase the amount of natural gas stored in the country, according to a diplomat familiar with the debate. But so far, there is little evidence that supply has increased.

Gazprom’s German Rehden natural gas storage facility, which occupies almost one-fifth of the country’s storage capacity, will fill up in October 2019, with 10% full, according to data from Gazprom Europe. Is less than

Austria’s Heidach facility, also operated by Gazprom and one of the largest underground storage facilities in Central Europe, is only 20 percent full.

The gas industry was deeply divided as to whether Russia was refraining from supplying from Europe. Supply from Europe has been accused of driving the rapid launch of the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline. From the sea to Germany.

Many analysts argued at the end of summer that Russia’s production had reached its limits after a long winter last year, while more supply had to be directed to domestic depots.

But last week, Gazprom refused to reserve additional pipeline capacity that would allow it to increase its supply to Europe next month, when efforts to fill Russia’s domestic storage were to be completed.

Cuneyt Kazokoglu of Fact Global Energy, a consultancy, said:

“But their storage is now almost full, and structurally there seems to be nothing to stop the gas supply to Europe, but it isn’t.”

Sebastian Bleschke, head of INES, the German gas storage industry group, explains why European storage was exhausted by the prolonged winter, but Gazprom-owned facilities were “not replenished”. Said difficult.

Putin said last week that Gazprom could increase its flow rate by an additional 17.5 billion cubic meters “the day after” the approval of the pipeline by German regulators, with the availability of increased supply of Nord Stream 2 approval. Clearly associated.

Nord Stream 2 operators said last week that their pipeline was filled with gas in preparation for going live. This shows that Russia has access to gas.

“Early autumn, Russia’s tight domestic gas balance may have been the reason for the flow. [to Europe] Katerina Filipenko, Principal Analyst at Wood Mackenzie’s European Gas Research, said:

“But now we believe that gas availability has increased … Gazprom may be ready to supply more gas, but Nord Stream 2 gets a green light. Is a condition. “

The German Ministry of Economy said on Tuesday that allowing the new pipeline to start supplying gas to Europe did not endanger Germany’s or EU’s energy security. A ministry analysis should pave the way for Nord Stream 2 to be certified by the German Federal Network Agency.

Western European politicians were slower to point to Russia than Eastern European politicians. But in the last two weeks, it has begun to change.

Annalena Baerbock, co-chair of Germany’s Green Party, who is participating in the coalition negotiations, said last week that Europe should not succumb to “blackmail” from Russia over the approval of Nord Stream 2, He added that he believed it was done “intentionally.” It was brought. “

Additional report by Max Sedon of Moscow

Gazprom’s low gas storage levels fuel questions over Russia’s supply to Europe Source link Gazprom’s low gas storage levels fuel questions over Russia’s supply to Europe

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