Russia has offered no hope of a quick fix for gas-starved markets in Europe, with a spokesperson for President Vladimir Putin saying it is too late for any urgent measures to increase gas reserves in underground storage.

Dmitry Peskov is among the Russian officials to have denied suggestions that state-controlled monopoly Gazprom has been artificially restricting gas exports to Europe over the past several months.

Some members of the European Parliament accused Russia of squeezing supplies to spur an energy-starved European Union to push through certification of its Nord Stream 2 subsea gas export pipeline project.

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Peskov contested this view, stating that Gazprom is “capable to start growing gas supplies” to Europe on condition that new contracts are signed, rather than European customers expecting supplies to growth through spot contracts.

He added “the company is fully implementing its obligations” currently and “no one [customers in Europe] has complaints” on the volume of Russian gas being received.

Europe will enter winter with lower than usual gas reserves in underground storage.

It is not possible to replenish European storage “within, for example, five days” as the speed of pumping gas underground has an upper limit, he said.

"Reliable supplier"

Peskov’s pronouncement came after Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak offered assurance that Russia will continue to be “a reliable supplier of energy resources, such as electricity, piped and liquefied natural gas, to the world markets”.

Novak was addressing a United Nations General Assembly session in New York at the end of the last week.

Novak also commented: “It is important to maintain a balance between traditional and alternative energy sources. This is the only possible path of evolution to the low-carbon future without damage to energy security.”

Although Gazprom has completed the construction of the subsea segments of Nord Stream 2 in the Baltic Sea, the new pipeline is now facing the certification and approvals process in Germany, expected to be completed in January at the earliest.

The German Federal Network Agency that manages the process, has agreed for Poland’s state oil and gas producer, PGNiG, and its German supply and trading subsidiary, to participate in the Nord Stream 2 certification proceedings.

Poland has become the most vociferous critic of Nord Stream 2 recently after Gazprom resolved to reduce gas transit supplies to Europe via the Yamal Pipeline, running across Belarus and Poland to Germany.

Gas transit warning

Although Gazprom reinstated the transit flow via the Yamal Pipeline to the usual daily volume of over 77 million cubic metres at the end of the last week, the company has no long-term obligations to use the pipeline to its full capacity.

Moscow-based RusEnergy consultancy partner Mikhail Krutikhin has suggested that Gazprom may opt to halt gas transit flow across Ukraine once Nord Stream 2 is operational, despite that it has a firm contract to continue such shipments until end of 2024.

Krutikhin has suggested that Gazprom may instead pay compensation to Ukraine for its failure to pump gas across the company under the current contract.

Sergey Makogon, executive director of Ukraine’s state-owned gas transmission authority Operator GTS Ukrainy, said that the country wishes to start talks with Gazprom on signing a new gas transit agreement “immediately without getting closer to the expiration” of the current contract.