Russia's Putin puts Rosneft one step closer to gas exports to Europe

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The Rosneft logo is pictured on a safety helmet in Vung Tau, Vietnam April 27, 2018. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

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MOSCOW, Dec 7 (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the government to work out proposals by March 1 for energy giant Rosneft (ROSN.MM) to supply 10 billion cubic metres of natural gas exports to Europe, Interfax news agency reported on Tuesday.

Rosneft, Russia's largest oil producer, in which BP (BP.L) owns an almost 20% stake, has long sought to make inroads into the lucrative natural gas market in Europe, which its Chief Executive Igor Sechin has said should help to ease pressure on gas prices.

Some politicians and experts have accused Russia, a key supplier of gas to Europe, of withholding deliveries of gas amid delays in the certification of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, as gas prices have soared amid tight supplies and rising demand.

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Kremlin-controlled Gazprom (GAZP.MM), which holds monopoly right for gas exports via pipelines, sends it to Europe via a number of routes.

Two of these, via Ukraine and the Yamal pipeline, are underused, and if Rosneft secures export rights it may help to ease pressure on the European gas market.

Moscow has said it is meeting all its contractual obligations, something which its key buyers have confirmed.

Commodity prices were buoyed on Tuesday by easing concerns over the impact of the Omicron coronavirus variant on global fuel demand.

The Dutch day-ahead contract rose 7.43 euros to 95.00 euros per megawatt hour (MWh) in the morning, while the benchmark Dutch front-month contract was up 5.50 euros, also at 95.00 euros/MWh.

Russian gas flows through the Yamal-Europe pipeline into Germany at the Mallnow metering point on the Polish border were at an hourly volume of more than 10 million kilowatt hours (kWh) on Tuesday, broadly unchanged for the past two days.

Nominations for Tuesday's volumes at the Velke Kapusany metering point on the Slovakia-Ukraine border, another major route to Europe, were for 951,580.2 MWh or 87.5 million cubic metres, similar to levels seen from the end of last week.

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Reporting by Anton Kolodyazhnyy; Writing by Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by Kirsten Donovan, Katya Golubkova and Jan Harvey

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