The US says Russia must increase supplies of natural gas to Europe through Ukraine to curb skyrocketing energy costs, sticking to its negative stance on the launch of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
“The reality is there are pipelines with enough capacity through Ukraine to supply Europe. Russia has consistently said it has enough gas supply to be able to do so, so if that is true, then they should, and they should do it quickly through Ukraine,” Amos Hochstein, senior adviser for energy security at the US State Department, said in an interview with Bloomberg TV.
Hochstein said supplies of gas from Russia to Europe are “inexplicably low compared to both previous years and to what they have the capacity to do.” He also said that Russia’s state energy giant Gazprom’s refusal to book additional gas transit through Ukrainian territory for October “increases the concern.”
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The US official also accused Moscow of trying to use Europe’s energy crisis to speed up the launch of the newly constructed Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which runs from Russia to Germany through the Baltic Sea. Hochstein underlined that US President Joe Biden and his administration oppose the launch of the project.
Gas prices in Europe have been hitting records, with October futures on the Dutch TTF exchange reaching record $963.9 per 1,000 cubic meters this month, while on September 20 the estimated price was $911.2.
Russia’s Gazprom has repeatedly pointed to the connection between high gas prices and lower-than-needed reserves in European underground storage facilities ahead of the approaching winter. As of September 19, those reserves were only 72% full, TASS reported, which is nearly 14% lower than in the past five years.
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However, Gazprom emphasized last week that its current volume of gas supplies to Europe is in full compliance with the existing contracts. The company has been uneager to book additional volumes in the pipelines running through Ukraine due to high fees.
Gazprom is also counting on the launch of Nord Stream 2, a pipeline capable of delivering 55 billion cubic meters of Russian natural gas annually. The pipeline’s daily capacity of gas supply is comparable to the entire volume of liquefied gas that is now supplied to Europe.
However, Russia may have to wait up to four months for EU certification required to start deliveries. The project has been repeatedly delayed under pressure from Washington and some Eastern European countries, which view increasing energy imports from Russia as a threat to Europe’s energy security.
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