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Natural gas exports from Russia via the Yamal-Europe pipeline will remain limited at the start of this week as true winter begins and Russia keeps more gas for domestic consumption, with maximum temperatures in Moscow dipping below zero.
Bloomberg reports that after booking limited transit space on the Yamal-Europe pipeline over the weekend, Russia has remained reluctant to boost volumes today, which will likely aggravate the already grave gas supply situation in Europe, which is also facing colder temperatures this week.
According to data from the Regional Booking Platform, bookings for Russian gas flows via the pipeline, which terminates in Germany, stood at 4 percent of its capacity. This compares with an average bookings level of 35 percent of capacity since the start of the month.
Russia has also not booked any capacity on the transit route via Ukraine for today. However, Gazprom has started refilling the gas storage facilities it manages in Europe, although slowly.
Meanwhile, the temperatures in several European countries are expected to fall below zero this week, which will put additional strain on already strained grids, with wind power output much lower than demand requires, and gas in storage depleting fast due to the seasonal peak in demand.
On top of this, France's EDF had to shut down two nuclear plans after an inspection revealed signs of corrosion on some reactors. These account for a tenth of the country's electricity output and will add to Europe's troubles.
The situation is deteriorating fast, and could end in blackouts. Last month, Trafigura's chief executive Jeremy Weir warned that rolling blackouts were a possibility because of the limited natural gas supplies on the continent.
"We haven't got enough gas at the moment quite frankly, we're not storing for the winter period. So hence there's a real concern that there's a potential if we have a cold winter that we could have rolling blackouts in Europe," Weir said.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.