RUSSIAN GAZPROM'S NEW RECORD
PLATTS - Russia's Gazprom is set to exceed on Friday the level of exports to Europe and Turkey that was recorded in 2016 as demand for Russian natural ss and cold weather across the continent.
Taking into account the nominated volume for Friday, Gazprom will have exported 179.8 Bcm to what it calls the Far Abroad -- Europe and Turkey, but not the countries of the former Soviet Union -- higher than last year's then record high of 179.3 Bcm.
Russian gas has been in strong demand through 2017, with a prolonged cold snap in January and February seeing supplies peak, while deliveries remained robust through the summer as European buyers looked to refill heavily depleted storage stocks.
Cold weather in Europe in late November and so far in December has seen demand for Russian gas surge again.
"European consumers choose the unconditional reliability of our supplies and their economic feasibility," Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller was quoted as saying in a Gazprom statement Friday.
"We are on the home stretch on the way to a new absolute record of annual gas exports to the Far Abroad for the entire history of Gazprom and the country's gas industry," Miller said.
The most recent Gazprom forecast for gas supplies to Europe and Turkey in 2017 is 192 Bcm, while a Gazprom official last month said the expected level of exports in 2018 would be "at least flat" on this year.
According to data from Platts Analytics' Eclipse Energy, Russian gas flows via the three main routes to Europe -- the Nord Stream, Yamal-Europe and the Brotherhood pipelines -- have already hit 120.9 Bcm, up on the volume received in the January 1-December 7 period last year of 107.2 Bcm.
Flows have also passed last year's total of 118.3 Bcm.
Deliveries via the 55 Bcm/year capacity Nord Stream pipeline to Germany have so far totaled 44.4 Bcm this year and at current flow rates are likely to reach 48 Bcm by year-end.
That would see Nord Stream having run at a record high utilization rate of 87% in 2017, compared with rates of 80% in 2016, 71% in 2015, 65% in 2014 and just 43% in 2013 when European demand for Russian gas was more subdued.
Previously, Nord Stream flows were also partly constrained by the inability of Gazprom to flow more gas via the interconnected onshore OPAL pipeline to the Czech Republic due to European Commission regulations.
But Gazprom was given the right to book more capacity in OPAL first in December last year and again in August 2017 following a series of legal challenges from Poland's PGNiG.
The current flows via Nord Stream are effectively at the pipeline's capacity, demonstrating both Gazprom's desire to use the route at the expense of the Ukrainian network and the strong demand for Russian gas into northwestern Europe.
Gas supplies via Belarus on the Yamal-Europe line, meanwhile, are also close to being maxed out with flows averaging 87 million cu m/d since the start of the winter period.
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