Yamal-Europe gas flows stable: press
A threat from Belarus to suspend gas shipments to Europe did little to interrupt the flows from Russia’s Yamal-Europe pipeline, the Reuters news service reported December 14.
Belarus is a key transit route for Siberian gas flowing via the Yamal-Europe pipeline to Poland and Germany. The former Soviet Republic also hosts parts of the Druzhba pipeline system that sends crude oil to central and eastern Europe.
The EU has slapped sanctions on Belarus in response to the migrant crisis on the border with Poland. Both Poland and the EU accuse Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko of encouraging migrants from Middle East and African nations to try to enter Poland, creating a border crisis.
In response, Lukashenko has made repeated threats to shut off the flow of Russian gas through Belarus.
Pointing to data from German network operator Gascade, the Reuters news service reported that gas deliveries to Germany through Yamal-Europe have been “stable” for the past 24 hours.
The Kremlin distanced itself from previous threats from Lukashenko. Russian state media reported in November that Lukashenko did not consult with the Kremlin before suggesting that Belarus could cut off Russian gas transit to Europe.
The steady flow did little to ease concerns about natural gas levels in Europe, however. European gas prices have risen to unprecedented heights over recent months amid a sharp rebound in demand that supply has not matched. Price growth has been particularly pronounced in recent weeks, after Europe's main gas supplier Gazprom exported a record low amount of gas to the continent in November, despite earlier expectations that it would ramp up supplies.
Adding to the upward pressure, storage levels are unusually low, with facilities in the EU and the UK only 62.8% full, according to data published by Gas Infrastructure Europe (GIE).
There is a geopolitical risk premium, meanwhile, emanating from Western concerns that a Russian military invasion of Ukraine is imminent. While there are gas pipeline networks that avoid Ukraine, there remains a vast network of Soviet-era pipelines running through its territory.