The real winter, which finally set in all over Europe in early 2021, gave the Russian gas supplier a good run for its money. Exports jumped by a whopping 30 per cent.
Russian gas deliveries to Gazprom’s key customers set a three-year record in the first quarter of 2021 – Interfax agency writes, citing the corporation’s statistics. For the first three months of 2021, Gazprom pumped 52.7 bcm in the western direction, 30 percent more than a year earlier.
Germany increased its purchases of Russian gas by a third year-on-year to 15.54 bcm, while supplies to Turkey rose 106 per cent to 7.76 bcm. Poland increased imports by 18.5 per cent to 2.45 bcm. Exports to Finland skyrocketed by 67 percent, to Romania – by a whopping 90 percent, to Bulgaria – by 52 percent and to Greece – by 23 percent.
“The main factor in Gazprom’s favour was the weather, more specifically the severe frosts that hit Europe. On some days in January and February, more than 1 billion cubic metres per day were drawn from underground storage facilities, and on 15 January the fourth daily draw rate in Europe since 2011 was recorded,” experts from the Skolkovo Energy Centre noted.
Moreover, there was a noticeable drop in LNG imports, which flowed to Asia, where prices jumped above $1,000 per thousand cubic metres. In March, 8 bcm of LNG were delivered to the European Union – 20 percent less than a year earlier. In April, in most countries where the main storage facilities in Europe are located, gas reserves fell below 30 per cent: in Germany – to 26 per cent, in the Netherlands – to 23 per cent, in France – to 17 per cent, in Austria – to 26 per cent. This means that in the summer up to 60 billion cubic metres of gas will have to be purchased for storage.
However, Gazprom’s success in the summer months will depend on the global situation: if European prices exceed Asian prices or prices in these regions remain the same, then liquefied gas, which is abundant on the market today, will be more actively supplied to Europe, which means that competition will increase, Skolkovo experts warn.
“In addition, it will be extremely difficult for the concern to ensure the maximum level of supply to Europe for injection into underground tanks without reserving additional capacity on the Ukrainian direction. During the winter, this factor was offset by using the company’s own gas reserves in the underground gas storage facilities in Europe. However, this strategy will not work with empty storage facilities,” the experts write.
By Martin Chomsky and Annie Cook (photo: Gazprom)