Putin’s order to pump gas to Europe drives prices down

MOSCOW – European gas prices fell on Thursday after Russian President Vladimir Putin asked the country’s main natural gas company to pump more gas into EU storage sites.

Gas prices in Europe have skyrocketed in recent weeks amid strong demand in Asia, driven by the economic recovery from the pandemic and due to the depletion of European Union stocks after a cold winter.

In a call with officials Wednesday night, Putin told Alexei Miller, the head of state-controlled gas giant Gazprom, to start pumping gas to the company’s storage facilities in Austria and Germany. after completing national filings by November 8. The leadership of the Russian leader immediately lowered European gas prices.

The 27-country European Union depends on Russia for more than 40% of its gas imports.

Although Gazprom fulfilled its obligations under long-term agreements, it did not sell additional gas on the EU spot market, opting to fill national storage. Some European politicians have alleged that Russia is deliberately withholding gas to pressure German and European authorities to speed up final regulatory approval of the recently completed Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

Putin noted last week that one of the two links of the new pipeline under the Baltic Sea was already filled with gas as part of preparations for its launch, adding that supplies could begin “the day after” regulatory approval. .

Nord Stream 2, with an annual capacity of 55 billion cubic meters of gas is designed to deliver gas directly to Germany, bypassing Poland and Ukraine, which vehemently opposed the project along with the United States. United.

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