Gas prices: Putin ‘going to keep squeezing’ says expert

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President Vladimir Putin met with officials from Gazprom, the state-owned Russian gas company, and ordered the company to send more gas into the EU, which immediately saw prices fall. During a call with officials on Wednesday, Mr Putin instructed the gas giant to supply storage units in Austria and Germany after November 8, by which time Russia’s domestic depots are expected to be filled. Traders have said that the comments from Mr Putin helped to quickly drive prices lower.

Mr Putin has said: “This will make it possible to fulfil our contractual commitments in a reliable, stable, and consistent manner and to supply our European partners with gas in the autumn and winter.

“This will create a favourable situation, at any rate, a better situation in the European energy market in general.”

It comes as prices across the bloc have soared to record highs over the last few months and left the bloc scrambling to resolve an energy crisis.

Mr Putin had tightened supplies travelling into Europe through gas pipelines as he awaited the approval of his newly built pipeline.

The Nord Stream 2, which still needs certification from German regulators, will transit gas from Russia into Germany through the Baltic Sea, bypassing Poland and Ukraine.

But Mr Putin turned the tap on other pipelines that transport gas into Europe in the hope to speed up certification and avoid EU rules being slapped down on the system.

The Russian President had been accused of using Nord Stream 2 as a geopolitical weapon, claims Gazprom and Mr Putin have denied since they have claimed they are said they were still fulfilling contractual agreements.

Mr Putin has a tight grip on the European energy market, with a 27-member state EU currently depends on Russia for more than 40 percent of its gas imports.

A stark warning was sent to the EU earlier this month when Gazprom stopped gas flowing into Moldova, right on the EU’s doorstep, when it stopped transiting gas into the country and forced the country to declare a state of emergency.

On Thursday, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell accused Russia of putting political pressure on Moldova.

He said: “If prices increase, not in Europe, but in the whole world, it is not, in general terms, a consequence of weaponisation of the gas supplies. In the case of Moldova, yes, it is.

“Certainly, the gas issue is not just a Moldovan issue, but in the case of Moldova, it has political characteristics that have to be very much taken into account.

“The European Commission announced on Wednesday that it would make available €60 million to help Moldova deal with the current energy shortage.

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“The European Union stands ready to support Moldova to find a way out of this crisis.”

And while Gazprom has met its obligations under long-term agreements, it has not sold additional gas on the EU spot market, opting to fill domestic storage.

So the crisis may not be over yet, as Mr Putin told Gazprom chief Alexei Miller to only start pumping natural gas into European gas storage once Russia finishes filling its own stocks.

But while this is expected to happen as early as November 8, it again shows Russia’s dominating influence on the European energy market.

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