MOSCOW, Jan 17 (Reuters) – Russian state energy giant Gazprom said on Monday it has not booked any capacity to pump gas to Europe through the Yamal pipeline next month, underscoring a sharp drop-off in Russian exports to the region so far this year.
Gazprom said pipeline exports of Russian gas have tumbled 41% from a year ago so far in January, underlining the impact of a reversal in the Yamal-Europe pipeline, which usually pumps Russian gas into Europe, from Germany to Poland.
Data from German network operator Gascade showed that this was occurring for a 28th consecutive day on Monday.
Although the Kremlin-controlled group has not booked any capacity through the pipeline for February, this could change as it is able to take part in daily auctions.
The link has been operating in reverse mode since Dec. 21, helping drive up gas prices, although these dropped on Monday thanks to robust liquefied natural gas (LNG) volumes and higher wind power output.
Exports of Russian commodities have been under the spotlight in recent months amid a broader standoff with the West over Ukraine. Moscow has initiated the talks with the United States and NATO in efforts to stop Ukraine from joining the bloc.
Russia has also been accused by some politicians and experts of deliberately withholding gas exports in order to obtain clearance from Germany and the European Union for its Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, built to bypass Ukraine.
Russia denies any plans to attack Ukraine and says it meets all contractual obligations on gas exports.
It is not clear when the Yanal-Europe pipeline will revert to normal. A source close to Gazprom said the Kremlin-controlled company is expected to switch flows at some point this month, as Gazprom has paid for westbound volumes for January.
High gas prices present a major problem for European governments, utilities and consumers, with some firms forced out of business by last year’s rapid rise in costs.
The British contract for February delivery was down 10.00 pence at 200.00 pence per therm by 1147 GMT, while the Dutch March contract was 5.78 euros lower at 80.50 euros per megawatt hour (MWh).
The Dutch front-month contract was down by 1.95 euros at 81.40 euros/MWh.
The Yamal-Europe pipeline usually accounts for about a sixth of Russia’s annual gas exports to Europe and Turkey.
The reverse flows on Monday were around 7 million kWh/h, the same as at the weekend and last week, and are expected to remain in reverse until the early hours of Tuesday, data from the Mallnow metering point on the German-Polish border showed.
Gazprom has not booked any gas transit capacity for February via the route, according to a monthly auction results.
Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak on Saturday repeated that Russia was ready to supply more gas to Europe, but only if there are new long-term contracts.
Capacity nominations for Russian gas flows from Ukraine to Slovakia via the Velke Kapusany border point, another major route to Europe, were 286,970 megawatt hours (MWh) on Monday.
That was steady compared to nominations seen so far in 2022 but well below levels of more than 900,000 MWh recorded in early December, data from Slovak pipeline operator Eustream showed.
Gazprom has not booked gas transit capacity for exports for February via two other crossing points into Ukraine, although some 11.14 mcm/day of capacity via Velke Kapusany were booked for Russian gas for the next month.
Reuters, by Vladimir Soldatkin