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Idle Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline 'bad' for European consumers: Kremlin


European gas prices remain at historic highs

As political tensions over Ukraine continue to simmer

Germany ready to consider sanctions against Moscow

  • Author
  • Stuart Elliott    Rosemary Griffin
  • Editor
  • Alisdair Bowles
  • Commodity
  • Natural Gas
  • Tags
  • United States
  • Topic
  • Europe Energy Price Crisis War in Ukraine

An idle Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline is "bad" for consumers of gas in Europe, the Kremlin said Jan. 19, as tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine continue to simmer.

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European gas prices remain at historic highs, with low Russian supplies and a protracted certification process for the now complete Nord Stream 2 pipeline significant contributors to the recent price strength.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Jan. 19 that the fact that Nord Stream 2 had not been launched was impacting European gas users.

"It is bad for those involved in the project and for those who consume gas in Europe," Peskov was quoted as saying by the Prime news agency.

The TTF day-ahead price hit an all-time high of Eur182.78/MWh on Dec. 21, an increase of 985% year on year, according to S&P Global Platts price assessments.

Prices have cooled since, though they remain at historic highs. The TTF day-ahead contract was assessed Jan. 18 at Eur79.20/MWh, still a year-on-year increase of 290%.

Russian exports

Russian supplies into Europe have fallen sharply since the start of 2022, with deliveries via main routes -- including the first Nord Stream system -- down compared with the final months of 2021.

Nord Stream is currently supplying around 146 million cu m/d of gas, down from its regular 158 million cu m/d flow rate, while deliveries via Ukraine at the Velke Kapusany interconnection point are down at just 26 million cu m/d, according to data from S&P Global Platts Analytics.

Under transit arrangements finalized in December 2019, Gazprom agreed to transit 65 Bcm of gas via Ukraine in 2020 and 40 Bcm/year in the period 2021-24, well down on a recent transit peak of 94 Bcm in 2017.

A total of 41.6 Bcm of Russian gas transited Ukraine to Europe in 2021.

Russian supplies via the TurkStream pipeline have also been lower in January compared with volumes delivered in December last year.

In a statement on Jan. 15, Gazprom said its gas exports to non-CIS countries in the first half of January totaled 5.4 Bcm -- or an average of just 360 million cu m/d.

That is more than 40% lower than the average in January 2021 of 626 million cu m/d.

German-US pact

Peskov's comments come as tensions with the West over Ukraine continue, with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Jan. 18 saying sanctions against Moscow remained an option should Russia use energy as a weapon or escalate tensions in the region.

In July, Germany -- under the Merkel administration -- and the US issued a joint declaration designed mainly to limit the impact on Ukraine of an operational Nord Stream 2 pipeline and to help secure the future role of Ukraine as a transit country.

Scholz said Jan. 18 he stood by all aspects of the declaration with Washington.

In the meantime, the operator of Nord Stream 2 has completed the process of filling the 55 Bcm/year link with gas, but commercial operations are yet to begin as the operator waits for regulatory clearance.

The head of the German energy regulator, the Bundesnetzagentur, said Dec. 16 there would be no final decision on the certification of the operator of the pipeline in the first half of 2022.

The German regulator had four months from Sept. 8 to issue a draft decision on certification, but the process was suspended Nov. 16 after a little more than two months had passed.

The four-month process will resume once the regulator is satisfied that the actions around transferring assets to a new German subsidiary are completed.

The European Commission also has up to four months to issue a decision, after which time it is returned to the Bundesnetzagentur, which has a further two months to publish its final opinion.