Gazprom Exports Surge, as 90% of Opal Used this Week: Miller
Gazprom is now exporting more than at the height of recent winters, says CEO Alexei Miller, thanks to the lifting of pipeline restrictions in Germany.
He said the load of Gazprom’s transportation capacities for export on August 9 amounted to 562mn m3, while at the peak of the last two winters it did not exceed 539mn m3 per day.
Gazprom has pointed to significant increases year-on-year in its 1H2017 Russian gas exports: including to Germany (up 16.4%), Austria (up 74.2%), Hungary (25.9%), Slovakia (27.7%), Czech Republic (27.1%), with Bulgaria and Greece both up 12%. It was a similar picture to non-EU markets, with Gazprom gas exports to Turkey rising by 23.4%, to Serbia (up 45.3%) and to Macedonia (up 70.6%).
Gazprom forecasts that its gas exports to non-CIS countries (those outside the former Soviet Union) may reach 180bn m3 this year.
It expects this will be eased by the lifting of restrictions on use of capacity in the Opal gas pipeline, the onshore continuation of the subsea Nord Stream pipe. According to Miller, Opal's load on August 8 exceeded 90% of its 36bn m3/yr design capacity. Gazprom has exclusive rights to use 50% of Opal’s transit capacity but, after a recent court ruling, the European Commission allowed Gazprom to participate in the auctions for a further 40% of its capacity. The CEO of one of Gazprom's main German customers, Uniper's Klaus Schafer, as "positive."
Miller argues that Gazprom has to use all possible routes because of high EU demand for its gas, and says the acquisition of additional Opal capacities has not led to a decrease in use of transit capacities across Poland. On the contrary, he said the Yamal-Europe pipeline through Poland operated at its maximum capacity in the first week of August, while there was even an increase in Russian volumes transiting through Ukraine and reaching the EU at the Velke-Kapushany point on the Ukrainian-Slovak border.
Ukraine transit volumes increased, according to Ukrainian system operator Ukrtransgaz, from 251.5mn m3 August 1 to 275.9mn m3 on August 7.
However, Russian business newspaper Kommersant quotes market sources saying that high Russian export volumes and Opal's high usage are not solely due to demand from Gazprom's customers, but also because the company itself pumped substantial volumes of gas into underground storage capacities that it owns or books in Europe.