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Gazprom is on track to have filled Russia’s underground gas storage by the end of this month, a senior executive said on Thursday, which could potentially mean that the Russian gas giant could send more gas to Europe after that.
The Russian gas monopoly, a major supplier to Europe, has been accused in recent weeks of deliberately withholding additional supply to its customers, thus exacerbating the natural gas crunch and sending prices to record highs.
The European Commission is looking into complaints from some European Union (EU) member states that Russia isn’t sending more gas on top of the long-term contracted volumes, European Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson told Reuters on Tuesday.
“We are looking into this claim, together with Executive Vice President Vestager, who is responsible for competition rules, because it is of course a very serious matter,” Simson said.
However, “Our initial assessment suggests that Russia is fulfilling its long-term contracts,” the EU Energy Commissioner told Reuters.
After reaching another record high on Wednesday, natural gas prices in Europe and the UK reversed some of the gains later in the day after Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested that Gazprom could send more gas to its European customers.
Putin also took the opportunity to blame the high natural gas prices on Europe. What’s more, Putin blamed Europe’s energy market crisis on the green transition.
On Thursday, the International Energy Agency’s executive director Fatih Birol told the Financial Times that the IEA’s assessment points to the fact that Russia could boost its European exports by 15 percent of peak winter supply.
The IEA’s head called on Russia to prove it is a reliable supplier, as it has always claimed it is. If Gazprom raises exports, the additional volumes could ease the supply crunch and calm the nervous markets, Birol told FT.
“I don’t say they will do it but if they wish so, they have the capacity to do it,” the IEA’s chief told FT, referring to Russia.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.
The EU countries might have misjudged the market and delayed replenishing their low natural gas reserves before the onset of winter and are now trying to shift the blame for the energy crisis from itself to Russia.
The latest ploy is that 42 EU lawmakers of the European Parliament, who are most probably representatives of Polish and Baltic States, want to have Gazprom investigated for alleged manipulation of the soaring gas prices in the EU.
However, the truth is that Russia’s gas giant Gazprom has fulfilled its contractual obligations to the EU, and no one in Europe is disputing that. In fact, Gazprom’s gas exports to the EU rose by 23% between January and July this year. These figures prove the absurdity of accusing Gazprom of supply shortage. If the EU misjudged the gas market and didn’t order more Russian gas, it can’t blame Gazprom this.
Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
International Oil Economist
Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London