Russian pipeline gas exports to Europe collapse to a post-Soviet low

But sea-borne LNGs sales are up, thanks mostly to Novatek's Yamal LNG plant in the Arctic.

By Vladimir Soldatkin, Reuters - December 28, 2022
Model of natural gas pipeline and Gazprom logo.(Dado Ruvic / Illustration / Reuters File Photo)

MOSCOW — Russian gas exports to Europe via pipelines plummeted to a post-Soviet low in 2022 as its largest customer cut imports due to the conflict in Ukraine and a major pipeline was damaged by mysterious blasts, Gazprom data and Reuters calculations showed.

The European Union, traditionally Russia’s largest consumer for oil and gas, has for years spoken about cutting its reliance on Russian energy, but Brussels got serious after the Kremlin sent troops into Ukraine in February.

State-controlled Gazprom, citing Chief Executive Officer Alexei Miller, a long-standing ally of President Vladimir Putin, said its exports outside of the ex-Soviet Union will reach 100.9 billion cubic meters (bcm) this year.

That is a fall of more than 45 eprcent from 185.1 bcm in 2021 and includes supplies to China via the Power of Siberia pipeline, through which Gazprom supplied 10.39 bcm last year.

Russian direct gas exports to Germany, Europe’s largest economy, were halted in September following blasts at the Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea.

Sweden and Denmark have both concluded that four leaks on Nord Stream 1 and 2 were caused by explosions, but have not said who might be responsible. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has called the damage an act of sabotage.

Russia accused British navy personnel of being behind the blasts, a claim that London said was false.

Russian gas exports via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline totalled record-high 59.2 bcm last year.

The 100.9 bcm of Russian gas pipeline supplies, which Gazprom defines as exports to “far abroad”, or outside the former-Soviet Union, is one of the lowest since the collapse of the Soviet state in 1991.

One of Gazprom’s previous post-Soviet lows of gas sales to “far abroad” was at 117.4 bcm in 1995, according to Gazprom Export.

Russia, meanwhile has been increasing its sea-borne liquefied natural gas sales, thanks mostly to Novatek-led Yamal LNG plant in the Arctic.

According to the Rosstat government body, Russia’s LNG production rose by almost 10 percent in January – November to 29.7 million tonnes.

And Russia has managed to offset lower gas imports to Europe by higher energy prices at its budget revenues from oil and gas jumped by over a third in the first 10 months of the year.

Gazprom also said that its 2022 gas output is seen at 412.6 bcm, which is down from 514.8 bcm in 2021, when it reached a 13-year high.

This article has been fact-checked by Arctic Today and Polar Research and Policy Initiative, with the support of the EMIF managed by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

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