Russia says Gazprom has begun using gas stockpiles to stabilise market

The logo of Russian gas giant Gazprom is seen on a board at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), Russia, June 6, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

MOSCOW, Oct 12 (Reuters) - Russian energy giant Gazprom (GAZP.MM) has started using its inventories to pump more natural gas into the pipeline network to stabilise surging prices, a Russian official said on Tuesday.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, in a BBC interview, rejected any suggestion that Russia was withholding gas from the European market, where electricity and gas prices have rocketed this year as tight gas supplies have collided with strong demand in economies recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We favour energy security of Europe; we want to work collaboratively ... Gazprom has in fact started pumping out from its reserves into the pipelines to stabilise the market," Ryabkov told the BBC's Hard Talk programme without elaborating.

Interfax news agency, citing data from Gas Infrastructure Europe, has said that Gazprom pumped gas from a storage facility at Haidach in Austria for one day on Oct. 7 after a spike in gas prices to a record high.

"We work deliberately, quietly, soberly towards stabilisation. It's not in our interest to rock the boat further," Ryabkov said.

A group of European Parliament lawmakers has asked the European Commission to investigate Gazprom's role in the rising prices, saying its behaviour has made them suspect market manipulation and an "effort to pressure" Europe to agree a fast launch of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline between Russia and Germany. read more

Both Gazprom and the Kremlin have dismissed the accusations.

"We would prefer to have here a bear market. Russia is about bears now, it's not about bullies," Ryabkov said.

Reporting by Mark Trevelyan Writing by Vladimir Soldatkin Editing by David Goodman

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