Gazprom has filled the Opal pipeline

The monopoly company announced export records.
Gazprom reported on a 90 percent load of the Nord Stream gas pipeline, a 30 percent increase in supplies for the Opal tap and record gas supplies to Europe for the summer. Consumers of the EU really increased the demand for Russian gas sharply due to winter storage facilities and hot weather now. But, Kommersant sources say, the full load of Opal and a high level of export are the merit not only of Gazprom's customers: the company itself pushes substantial amounts of gas into rented UGS in Europe.

Loading of the Opal oil pipeline by Gazprom from the Nord Stream gas pipeline (capacity - 55 billion cubic meters) increased by 30% in the first eight days of August, the head of the monopoly Alexey Miller said. According to him, on Wednesday, "the volume of daily gas supply to GIS" Greifswald "(Germany) on August 8 reached 140 million cubic meters. M, that is, the use of Nord Stream has exceeded 90% of the designed capacity. " "And this is in the summer!" - Mr. Miller was pleased. According to the top manager, the full load of Opal - "an objective market need from European customers."

At the same time, the demand for Gazprom gas in Europe remains stably high, so the monopoly keeps loading other export routes. So, the Yamal-Europe pipe across Poland in the first week of August, despite the loading of Opal, was used at the maximum level. And on the Ukrainian corridor, Alexei Miller said, there was an increase in transit through the Velke Kapushany on the Ukrainian-Slovak border. The data of Ukrtransgaz confirm that the transit of Russian gas has increased by August 7 by almost 10% by the beginning of the month. According to the head of Gazprom, on Wednesday, exports to non-CIS countries amounted to 562 million cubic meters, which is higher than the winter peak of 2015/16 (539 million cubic meters).

Gazprom's production increased by 19.3% in January-July this year, to 266.3 billion cubic meters

Since 2009, Gazprom has been trying to get full access to Opal, but this was hampered by European regulators that set out a number of conditions, because of which the monopoly could use only half the pipe. And at the end of 2016, when the Russian company finally received the permission of the European Commission to access 90% of Opal's capacities (about 29 billion cubic meters - 4 billion cubic meters are supplied by German E.On, another 10% should be received by independent suppliers), the regulator's decision was blocked through the court Poland. But in July, the European Court and the High Regional Court in Düsseldorf lifted interim measures, and Gazprom again was able to increase supplies via Opal through daily auctions (the first bidding took place on August 1, after which the pipe load began to grow).

In general, according to Gazprom, in January-July, the company increased exports to foreign countries by 12.6%, to 110.8 billion cubic meters. Supplies to Germany increased by 16.4%, to Austria - by 74.2%, to Slovakia - by 27.7%, to the Czech Republic - by 27.1%. The main reason for the steady, even out-of-season demand is the underground storage facilities (UGS), which are very cold in winter, and the anomalous summer heat in Eastern Europe (see "Kommersant", July 19, for more information on the jump in gas demand in Europe). In June, Gazprom's deputy chairman of the board, Alexander Medvedev, predicted that by the end of the year exports to Europe could reach 180 billion cubic meters against a record 179.3 billion cubic meters in 2016. "The demand for Russian gas in Europe is objectively very high," noted Alexey Miller on Wednesday.

With this, Vyacheslav Mishchenko of Argus Media agrees. According to him, in August-September, you can expect a surge in demand in the EU due to the peak of the injection season in UGS. He notes that Europeans are in a hurry to buy maximum volumes of gas, until the price has risen. The expert notes that buyers prefer the route through the Baltic, fearing new crises in relations between Russia and Ukraine, and also want guarantees of deliveries at peak winter moments without unauthorized selection from Kiev. In addition, Mr. Mishchenko said, now volumes to Europe are being pumped into the Ukrainian UGS by Gazprom. Sources of Kommersant on the market note that a fairly significant portion of the gas flowing through Nord Stream and Opal remains in Gazprom's ownership and flows to the UGS reserves it reserves in Europe. In addition, they note, the full load of Opal is provided not only by Gazprom, but also by other suppliers. At the same time, the load on the other branch from Nord Stream - NEL - decreased, as volumes were redirected to Opal, interlocutors of "Kommersant" say. Increase of transit in the Ukrainian direction is partly explained by a two-day repair on the Yamal-Europe gas pipeline.