Gas appears to have stopped leaking from the damaged Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines in the Danish and Swedish Baltic Sea waters as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters in Moscow that seabed assessments would need to be carried out first before any possible to repair the pipelines.
Controller of the two Nord Stream operating consortia Gazprom reported on Sunday said that pressure had stabilised in the pipelines, which Western governments believe to have been damaged by explosives last week.
The Swedish Coast Guard said on Monday evening that no gas bubbles were visible at the sea surface at Nord Stream 1 incident sites. However, a gas leak from Nord Stream 2 was still observed at approximately 15 to 20 metres in diameter.
Gazprom, which has a monopoly over Russian gas exports, said it has started pumping out gas from an undamaged string of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to reduce the pressure and allow a safety inspection.
Denmark and Sweden are expected to start their own subsea survey of the incident sites later this week.
Gazprom added that it will start pumping gas back into the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to prepare for a resumption of gas exports to Europe after the integrity of the pipeline has been confirmed.
The Russian gas giant has also denied any responsibility for halting gas supplies to Italy via Ukraine, Slovakia and Austria, and for suppressing gas deliveries to Ukraine’s neighbour Moldova at the weekend.
Gazprom said it believes Europe should source about 9.6 billion cubic metres of gas during October to match the storage level from the 2019-2020 winter.
No gas to Italy
Russian claims that Gazprom was not responsible for the halt in gas exports to Italy were backed by Claudio Descalzi, chief executive of Italian energy major Eni on Monday, Reuters reported.
Descalzi said the issue had been caused by regulatory issues in Austria rather than geopolitics, and added that he expected it to be resolved by the end of this week.
“It is due to the fact that Gazprom would have to pay a monetary guarantee for the transport of gas from Austria to Italy that was not there before,” he said, adding that the guarantee amounts to €20 million ($19.6 million).
Eni said it will provide updates in case supplies are restored.
Gazprom said it had to halt exports to Italy because it had been unable to agree transit “transport nominations” with Austria.
Austrian authorities said the Russian company had not signed the amended contracts that are usually agreed at the start of the so-called “gas year” on 1 October.
Russian gas imports at the Tarvisio entry point in Italy averaged an estimated 15 million cubic metres of gas in September, according to S&P Global Commodity Insights.
“At the beginning of each gas year, various technical changes in the market model come into force,” the Austria’s Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation & Technology Ministry said in a statement, according to Reuters.
“These contracts have not yet been signed by Gazprom. Transport nominations could therefore not be accepted. A solution is currently being worked on at the technical level at full speed”, it added.
The ministry has not replied to Upstream’s request for comment on the progress of talks with Gazprom.
Gazprom has also been delivering about 42 million cubic metres per day of gas to Ukraine for onward transit to Europe since the beginning of October, according to preliminary data from Ukraine’s gas transmission authority Operator GTS Ukrainy.
The rate is reported unchanged from the September average.
About 5.7 MMcmd of this is destined for Moldova, but nominations are understood to be about 30% below the volume that state gas importer and distributor Moldovagaz contracted for October, ahead of the upcoming winter.
Moldovagaz executive chairman Vadim Cheban said his company paid about $1900 per thousand cubic metres for Russian gas in September, but the expected price for October is set to drop closer to $1000 per thousand cubic metres.
Gazprom said Moldova was not receiving the contracted volumes because Operator GTS Ukrainy was refusing to pump Russian gas via the border compressor station at Sokhranivka in the Luhansk region.
Operator GTS announced force majeure at Sokhranivka earlier this year after the facility was captured by Russian military and the plant’s permanent personnel removed.
The operator said Gazprom repeatedly declined offers to redirect gas flows from Sokhranivka to another border compressor station in the country’s Sumy region to avoid a drop in transit flows.
Gazprom said it has the right to terminate the existing contract with Moldovagaz “at any moment”, because the Moldovan company has repeatedly “violated contractual payment terms”, and has not made progress in settling its debt for previous supplies.
Moldova hosts a Russia-supported breakaway territory within its borders and was among the first nations to condemn Russia’s annexation of occupied Ukrainian regions.
“I strongly condemn and reject Russia’s attempt to illegally annex occupied regions of Ukraine following sham votes it staged at gunpoint,” Moldova’s President Maia Sandu said on Twitter
“Moldova’s support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity remains unfaltering,” she wrote.