According to Russia’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, the government is not delaying gas supply to Europe for political purposes.
Commitments to boost supply, according to Andrei Kelin, will take time to bear fruit.
Globally, gas prices have risen as countries begin to recover from the Covid epidemic.
As household costs climb, the US is concerned that Russia may be exploiting gas as a political weapon.
Although Russia only supplies approximately 5% of the UK’s gas, it accounts for almost half of the EU’s natural gas imports, with the majority of the rest coming from Norway and Algeria.
Some analysts believe Russia is withholding supplies to Europe in order to expedite approval of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which runs straight from Russia to Germany.
This bypasses Ukraine and has been faced with geopolitical and environmental opposition, despite Russia’s desire for it to be operational.
Merkel, the German chancellor, has stated that she is unaware of any occasions in which Russia has failed to meet its contractual commitments regarding gas delivery.
She was reported as stating, “Russia can only supply gas on the basis of contractual commitments, not just like that.”
Gazprom, Russia’s main state-owned energy firm, sells gas to Europe under two types of contracts: long-term contracts, which typically last 10 to 25 years, and “spot” transactions, which are one-time purchases for a certain volume of gas.
According to data from Gazprom’s own electronic sales platform, very few “spot” transactions are now taking place, implying that very little gas is being delivered to Europe through this mechanism.
However, accusations that Russia is withholding gas to put pressure on Germany over Nord Stream 2 are “total nonsense… and politically motivated tittle-tattle,” according to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Mr Kelin mirrored Mr Putin in an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday.
“We don’t suppress it for political purposes, for sure. But, of course, gas difficulties are at the pump stations “he stated
Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak stated that German acceptance of Nord Stream 2 “would send a favorable signal and cool down the current situation,” notwithstanding Mr Putin’s dismissal of the gas claims as “blather.”
Mr Kelin stated that he could not perceive “any inconsistency” with this.
He stated that the pipeline was complete and that “Germany is expected to provide the final approval. So, as soon as it happens, additional gas supplies will flow via this pipeline”
An Uncertain Future
When asked if Russia would continue to increase gas supplies to western Europe if Germany did not approve the pipeline soon, Mr Kelin replied, “As much as we can.”
“We’ve boosted shipments through the Ukraine pipeline by 10%, but as far as we can tell, we can’t do any more since the pipeline’s equipment has never been modernized or repaired, making it unsafe to operate.”
Mr Kelin said he was not an expert in that field when asked about the absence of proof that Russia had boosted supplies through Ukraine by 10%.
He went on to say that supplies will not grow as quickly as Mr Putin had predicted.
“Of course, gas does not travel at the speed of light; it moves extremely slowly,” he explained.
“So, once the president says anything, do you think prices will drop tomorrow? This is not an option.”
Mr Kelin said Nord Stream 2 would assist when asked if Russia was doing everything it could to deliver more and cheaper gas to Western Europe.
The Russian ambassador to the United Kingdom said he couldn’t say if gas supplies will increase in November, but that they had already increased by 15%.
When asked if Nord Stream 2 would give Russia tremendous powers over western Europe simply by “using a tap,” Mr Kelin rejected the idea as “nonsense” and quipped that such a tap may be in his embassy’s basement.
He responded, “Of course, it’s rubbish.”
Mr Kelin was asked if gas supply will increase from November 1 regardless of whether Nord Stream 2 was approved “I simply have no idea. But, as I already stated, we have increased it by 15% “ht right now.”
Mr Kelin also questioned the impact of Russian gas supplies on UK price hikes, stating, “We follow what happens in the UK, but the UK, as far as I understand it, has just around 3% from Gazprom this year – it’s nothing.”
He went on to say that if there was a chance for “rescue, we will do everything we can to ease the tough conditions that are presently being produced by [the] crisis.”