The International Energy Agency (IEA) has called on Russia to increase its natural gas exports to Europe in order to help alleviate rapidly rising fuel prices and low levels of gas stocks for the coming cold-weather season.

The agency noted that Russia is fulfilling its long-term contracts with Europe but that exports were down from one year ago, when additional shipments were instrumental in allowing for the replenishment of inventories.

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“The IEA believes that Russia could do more to increase gas availability to Europe and ensure storage is filled to adequate levels in preparation for the coming winter heating season,” a statement released Tuesday said.

“This is also an opportunity for Russia to underscore its credentials as a reliable supplier to the European market.”

Russia has drawn charges that it is withholding additional gas shipments to hasten the certification of the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline that will carry supplies from state-run Gazprom to Germany.

The IEA pointed out that European electricity prices had climbed to their highest level in more than a decade, driven by a surge in the price of gas, coal and the fees utilities pay for carbon emission allowances on the European market.

But the agency sought to counter arguments that the gas price spike was a result of Europe’s efforts to lessen its dependency on fossil fuels.

“Recent increases in global natural gas prices are the result of multiple factors, and it is inaccurate and misleading to lay the responsibility at the door of the clean energy transition,” said IEA executive director Fatih Birol.

“Today’s situation is a reminder to governments, especially as we seek to accelerate clean energy transitions, of the importance of secure and affordable energy supplies — particularly for the most vulnerable people in our societies,” Birol said.

“Well-managed clean energy transitions are a solution to the issues that we are seeing in gas and electricity markets today — not the cause of them.”

Russian authorities have reportedly backed domestic oil and gas player Rosneft's request for capacity in the country's export infrastructure. Current legislation gives sole gas export rights to Gazprom and its subsidiaries.

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