In the first three months of this year, Gazprom earned $9.59 billion on gas exports /

Photo: Gazprom.

By Martin Chomksy

The Russian company has not ordered any transport capacity through Poland to Germany in the next three quarters. This is a form of pressure on the EU aimed to quickly get clearance for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to operate.

Gazprom is in no hurry to increase gas supplies to the European Union, despite Vladimir Putin’s official instruction to the company to fill German gas storage facilities. On Tuesday, the GSA and Regional Reservation Platform held another series of auctions for the Yamal-Europe gas pipeline capacity.

For the first, second and third quarters of 2022, Gazprom has decided not to purchase any capacity at all. That particular route can be used to annually pump 33 bcm of gas from Western Siberia via Belarus and Poland to Germany.

The pipeline supplying Germany, which was launched in 1997, has been practically closed since the end of last week: gas is pumped back to Poland rather than in the normal direction from east to west. Berlin, Moscow and Gazprom remain silent about the situation, while in the meantime the European gas market is reaching fever pitch.

The long-standing gas transit agreement with Poland expired a year ago. Then Gazprom immediately booked capacity 12 months in advance – until September 2021. When that contract also expired, the Russian company ordered only a third of the available volume for October and the same quantity for November.

“The reason Gazprom dropped the Polish route is Nord Stream 2,” explained Dmitry Marinchenko of Fich agency to Reuters.

Gazprom is “probably hoping that Nord Stream 2 will start operating soon,” the analyst believes, “and when it does, the Ukrainian transit route and Yamal-Europe will be used as supplementary supply routes only when the four pipes of the northern pipeline are already occupied.”

“Clearly, Gazprom is using gas from the Yamal-Europe pipeline to fill Nord Stream 2,” says Ronald Smith, senior oil and gas analyst at BCS. But if NS2 is not approved soon, Gazprom may have to apply for more capacity on the Belarus-Poland route.

The European gas market responded nervously to the results of Gazprom’s auction. December futures on the ICE exchange in London started the day at $821.3 per 1,000 m3, up 5 percent day-on-day.