Russian gas exports drop sharply to Europe via Yamal pipeline

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MOSCOW, Dec 18 (Reuters) - Russian natural gas deliveries to Germany through the Yamal-Europe pipeline dropped sharply on Saturday, data from German network operator Gascade showed, adding pressure to an already tight European gas market as it heads into peak winter demand.

It was not immediately clear why flows were down through the pipeline, one of the major routes for Russian gas exports to Europe and which traverses Belarus. Russian gas exporter Gazprom did not immediately reply to a request for comment. read more

European gas prices have surged this year as demand spiked globally in the post-pandemic recovery. Russia, Europe's key supplier, has said supplies under long-term deals were met in full, but has not added volumes for the spot market. read more

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Gazprom sends gas to Europe via a number of routes and is booking extra capacity - or volumes which come on top of firm contracts - at auctions for delivery via Ukraine and to Germany via the Yamal route.

Flows at the Mallnow metering point on the German-Polish border on Saturday fell to an hourly volume of around 1,200,000 kilowatt hours (kWh/h), from an average of 10,000,000 kWh/h on Friday and around 12,000,000 kWh/h on Thursday.

Russian gas supplies to Europe are closely tied with levels of gas in Gazprom's storage at home. The company this week started to lift gas from its underground facilities in central Russia, with peak consumption expected in a month.

Levels of flows and their direction on the Yamal-Europe pipeline are managed according to customers' requests. The pipeline was working in reverse mode - conveying gas from Germany to Poland - for some time last month.

It reversed to bring flows via Belarus and Poland to Germany after Gazprom refilled storage at home and started to re-stock its European facilities to meet seasonal demand. read more

Gazprom and the Kremlin deny any connection between levels of gas supplies to Europe via existing routes, and an ongoing debate over the newly-built Nord Stream 2 pipeline which is awaiting a green light from Germany to start supplies.

Nord Stream 2, which would see transit countries such as Belarus, Poland and Ukraine losing at least some of their gas transit fees, started filling its second pipe with gas this week. read more

Gazprom booked no extra supplies via the Yamal pipeline at a monthly auction for December delivery and is taking small export capacity at daily auctions from time to time when it sees requests from customers.

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Reporting by Katya Golubkova; Editing by Mark Potter and David Holmes

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