By Irina Slav
Russia could immediately increase natural gas deliveries to Europe as soon as German authorities approve the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, the Financial Times reports, citing President Vladimir Putin as saying gas can be delivered “the day after tomorrow” if approval is granted “tomorrow”.
Putin said Russia could deliver an additional 17.5 billion cu m of gas if the new pipeline gets the green light. This amount, according to the FT, is equal to a tenth of Russian gas deliveries to Europe and Turkey last year and would come not a moment too soon as Europe continues to struggle to fill up its reserves ahead of winter.
However, the Russian president’s statement is also likely to spark anger in Europe since it confirms suspicions that Russia wants to withhold additional supplies for Europe until Nord Stream 2 is approved. Moscow officials have said that Gazprom was prioritizing domestic energy security, and the company itself has repeatedly stated that it had fulfilled its delivery obligations under long-term contracts with European buyers.
Earlier this week, sources from Moscow also hinted that there would be more gas for Europe if Nord Stream 2 is approved, Bloomberg reported. But, separately, speaking to Bloomberg, a Russian MP said, “We cannot ride to the rescue just to compensate for mistakes that we didn’t commit.”
Meanwhile, top Russian officials, including Deputy Prime Minister and former Energy Minister Alexander Novak, have argued that Europe’s gas crisis was not the result of insufficient supply but a consequence of lower than usual inventories and bad decisions on the part of politicians.
At the same time, some in Brussels are accusing Gazprom of market manipulation to make prices rise. More than 40 members of the European Parliament from all political groups have reportedly urged the European Commission to launch an investigation into Gazprom over alleged market manipulation that could have contributed to the record-high natural gas prices in Europe.