Russian Gas Flows to Germany Through Yamal Reversed

 A worker climbs a cylinder at a gas compressor station at the Yamal-Europe pipeline near Nesvizh, southwest of Minsk December 29, 2006. (REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko (BELARUS)/File Photo)

Russian natural gas shipments to Germany through a major transit pipeline reversed direction on Tuesday after stopping earlier in the day, data from German network operator Gascade showed.

Westward flows through the Yamal-Europe pipeline had been falling since Saturday, sending European spot gas prices toward all-time highs.

Levels of flows and their direction through Yamal are managed according to customers’ requests, and they alternated between eastward – meaning conveying gas from Germany to Poland – and westward for around a week during November.

On Tuesday, eastward flows began at the Mallnow metering point on the German-Polish border, Gascade said. It had earlier logged requests for eastward flows at an hourly volume of over 1,250,000 kilowatt hours (kWh/h) for the rest of Tuesday.

Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom sends gas to Europe via a number of routes and had not booked capacity for exports via Yamal for Tuesday. Gazprom is booking extra capacity at auctions for delivery via Ukraine and to Germany via the Yamal route, when it sees requests.

But some western politicians and industry experts have accused Russia of withholding deliveries of gas to Europe amid political tensions over Ukraine, as well as delays in the certification of another pipeline, Nord Stream 2.

Gazprom and the Kremlin have repeatedly denied this. Gazprom did not immediately reply to a Reuters request for comment on Tuesday’s reversal.

Yamal, meanwhile, flows through Belarus, whose government is under pressure from sanctions by EU authorities over human rights violations and a migrant crisis on its border.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has threatened to retaliate by blocking gas shipments.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said earlier this month that he hoped Lukashenko would not suspend gas transit despite “unprecedented, unjustified and aggressive” pressure from some Western nations.

The Dutch front-month gas contract rose to 153.10 euros/MWh on Tuesday, adding 4% and nearing the all-time high of 155 euros/MWh it hit in October.