Russia says it could resume spot gas sales after filling its reserves

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak attends the Russian Energy Week International Forum in Moscow, Russia October 13, 2021. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

MOSCOW, Oct 15 (Reuters) - Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said on Friday that Russia could resume spot gas sales after it finishes filling its storage reserves, a step that could ease pressure on prices in Europe.

Novak did not say how soon or in what quantities such sales could take place, but the government has said it intends to keep topping up domestic inventories until Nov. 1.

Asked if Russia could resume spot sales once reserves were filled, Novak told reporters: "If such opportunities exist, yes, of course."

His comments came as Russia faces pressure to step up gas shipments to Europe where prices have rocketed this year, sending household bills higher and hitting industrial users such as steelmakers and fertiliser producers.

Critics have accused Moscow of deliberately withholding supplies in order to exert political pressure and win faster regulatory approval for the newly built Nord Stream 2 pipeline that will double the amount of gas it can ship across the Baltic Sea to Germany.

Russia denies this and says it is meeting its contracted commitments, which major European customers have confirmed.

President Vladimir Putin said this week the idea that Moscow was using energy as a weapon was "nonsense", and Russia was prepared to supply more gas to Europe if requested. read more

Reporting by Olesya Astakhova and Maria Kiselyova Writing by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber Editing by Mark Trevelyan and Mark Potter

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