Russian pipeline gas exports to Europe collapse to a post-Soviet low

Russia's largest customer Germany cut imports due to the conflict in Ukraine and after the Nord Stream 2 pipeline was damaged by mysterious blasts.

 The logo of Gazprom company is seen on the facade of a business centre in Saint Petersburg, Russia March 31, 2022. (photo credit: REUTERS/REUTERS PHOTOGRAPHER)
The logo of Gazprom company is seen on the facade of a business centre in Saint Petersburg, Russia March 31, 2022.
(photo credit: REUTERS/REUTERS PHOTOGRAPHER)

Russian gas exports to Europe via pipelines plummeted to a post-Soviet low in 2022 as its largest customer cut imports due to the conflict in Ukraine and a major pipeline was damaged by mysterious blasts, Gazprom and Reuters calculations showed.

The European Union, traditionally Russia's largest consumer for oil and gas, has for years spoken about cutting its reliance on Russian energy, but Brussels got serious after the Kremlin sent troops into Ukraine in February.

State-controlled Gazprom, citing Chief Executive Officer Alexei Miller, a long-standing ally of President Vladimir Putin, said its exports outside of ex-Soviet Union will reach 100.9 billion cubic meters (bcm) this year.

Exports to Germany were halted 

That is a fall of more than 45% from 185.1 bcm in 2021 and includes supplies to China via the Power of Siberia pipeline, through which Gazprom supplied 10.39 bcm last year.

Russian direct gas exports to Germany, Europe's largest economy, were halted in September following blasts at the Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea.

Gas bubbles from the Nord Stream 2 leak reaching surface of the Baltic Sea in the area shows disturbance of well over one kilometre diameter near Bornholm, Denmark, September 27, 2022. (credit: DANISH DEFENCE COMMAND/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)Gas bubbles from the Nord Stream 2 leak reaching surface of the Baltic Sea in the area shows disturbance of well over one kilometre diameter near Bornholm, Denmark, September 27, 2022. (credit: DANISH DEFENCE COMMAND/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

Sweden and Denmark have both concluded that four leaks on Nord Stream 1 and 2 were caused by explosions, but have not said who might be responsible. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has called the damage an act of sabotage.

Russia accused British navy personnel of being behind the blasts, a claim that London said was false.

Russian gas exports via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline totalled record-high 59.2 bcm last year.

A lowpoint for gas exports

The 100.9 bcm of Russian gas pipeline supplies, which Gazprom defines as exports to "far abroad," or outside the former-Soviet Union, is one of the lowest since the collapse of the Soviet state in 1991.

One of Gazprom's previous post-Soviet lows of gas sales to "far abroad" was at 117.4 bcm in 1995, according to Gazprom Export.

Russia, meanwhile has been increasing its sea-borne liquefied natural gas (LNG) sales, thanks mostly to Novatek NVTK.MM-led Yamal LNG plant in the Arctic.

 THE LOGO of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project is seen on a pipe at the Chelyabinsk pipe rolling plant in Chelyabinsk, Russia. (credit: MAXIM SHEMETOV/REUTERS) THE LOGO of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project is seen on a pipe at the Chelyabinsk pipe rolling plant in Chelyabinsk, Russia. (credit: MAXIM SHEMETOV/REUTERS)

According to the Rosstat government body, Russia's LNG production rose by almost 10% in January - November to 29.7 million tonnes.

And Russia has managed to offset lower gas imports to Europe by higher energy prices at its budget revenues from oil and gas jumped by over a third in the first 10 months of the year.

Gazprom also said that its 2022 gas output is seen at 412.6 bcm, which is down from 514.8 bcm in 2021, when it reached a 13-year high.