Alexander Novak - debuty primie minister. Photo: government.ru / gasnews.eu

Alexander Novak. Photo: goverment.ru.

By Annie Cook

The Kremlin says it can increase gas supplies to the EU market at any time. The condition is that consumers sign contracts with Gazprom that will make them dependent on the Russian resource for years to come.

“We can supply more gas, we have huge resources. But production is an investment project and it takes time for the project to pay off. That is why there must be a clear marketing policy. Therefore, we have always advocated long-term contracts as a way of providing our customers with energy security,” said Alexander Novak, Russia’s first deputy prime minister, in an interview with state television channel Rossiya-1 on Saturday.

Novak stressed that Russia complied with all its long-term supply contracts last year. “In addition, we delivered much more to Germany, Turkey, and other countries that have already chosen the quantities specified in long-term contracts.” This statement contradicts the declarations of many EU Gazprom customers complaining that the Russians are not filling extra orders.

According to Novak, the cause of the energy crisis in the Union is not Gazprom’s deliberate actions, but “the short-sighted policy of the European Union and the European Commission, which over the past few years have deliberately refused long-term contracts in order to reduce dependence on Russia. This has resulted in the conversion of long-term contracts into spot contracts.”

“Improper planning, short-term energy policy, is a headache for European politicians, the cause of which they try to blame on others,” he concluded.

A number of EU countries between September and December 2021 accused Gazprom of restricting gas supplies to the EU during peak energy prices, believing that the Russian supplier, which covers more than 40 percent of the Community’s gas needs, was tampering with European prices. The aim of such actions is to force the approval of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.

In response to these allegations, Gazprom has repeatedly stated that its deliveries to EU countries in autumn 2021 increased compared to the same period last year and that all contractual obligations to EU countries have been fully complied with.

The company has not explained why it has not been sending gas through Poland via the Yamal pipeline for three weeks and has minimised deliveries through Ukraine. Last week at Poland’s request Brussels initiated an investigation into Gazprom’s actions on the gas market in the Union.