Russian state-controlled energy company Gazprom sent a daily record of 160.75mn cubic metres of natural gas to Europe via its Nord Stream pipeline on January 1, according to its CEO Alexei Miller.
“The current level of load demonstrates that the northern corridor for Russian gas supplies to European market is at high demand. And once again confirms the importance and urgency of building Nord Stream 2. The voice of the customer is calling for this route,” Vedomosti daily quoted Miller as saying on January 3.
In 2015, the gas delivered via Nord Stream amounted to 39bcm, which is 80% of design capacity. And volumes have increased since then. Nord Stream told bne IntelliNews that in 2016 the average utilisation rates had risen to 99% in week 52 of 2016, up from an average of 87% in December and 80% average for the whole of last year.
These increases come on top of the steady increase in the pipeline’s capacity thanks to ongoing investment: In January-December 2014 there was 35.5bcm through-put of gas, or 65% of capacity; in 2015 39.1bcm (71%); and 2016: 43.8bcm (80%), according to Nord Stream.
Increased deliveries were possible after the European Commission gave Gazprom permission to use the Opal pipeline in addition to Nord Stream, increasing the allowable capacity usage of Opal from 50% to 90%.
Meanwhile, construction of the twin pipeline, Nord Stream 2, remains extremely controversial, with Poland in particular attempting to block the project in European courts. The pipeline would run under the Baltic Sea straight to terminals in Germany, but Poland is lobbying for the pipeline to run over its territory, thereby entitling it to large transit tariffs.
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