Natural gas circulates on the Nord Stream 2 (NS2) pipeline that connects Russia to Germany, and volumes are expected to increase as the system comes on stream.
Gazprom PJSC’s subsidiary, Nord Stream 2 AG, said this week that gas filling has started on the first chain of the 5.3 Bcf / d two-branch system which spans 764 miles and connects countries by an underwater passage.
“The chain will be gradually filled to build up the inventory and pressure required as a prerequisite for subsequent technical testing,” the company said in a statement.
Last month, after hooking up the last section of the system, Gazprom said it would work to start commercial operations by the end of the year to get more supplies to short-lived Europe. natural gas.
Why are natural gas prices continuing to rise?
Natural gas prices continued an extraordinary rally on the continent this week despite the announcement of NS2. UK and Dutch futures broke previous records on Tuesday, with the first month’s contracts each coming in at around $ 40 / MMBtu. Spot prices in Asia followed suit and also set records on Tuesday, when the Japan-Korea marker was valued above $ 35 / MMBtu.
NS2 is seen as crucial for supplying Europe with additional natural gas, where stocks remain significantly below what is needed as the colder months approach. The continent competed with Asia for liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports throughout the year. Pipeline imports to Europe were also low due to unplanned outages and regular maintenance.
Gas flows from Norway fell to their lowest level in 10 days on Tuesday, while pipeline flows from Russia through the Mallnow entry point in Germany were also low, helping to further support prices. .
NS2’s first line has already undergone pre-commissioning work to ensure the integrity of the pipeline, the company said. Internal inspections, as well as external visual and instrumental surveys were carried out.
However, it is still unclear when the pipeline could actually enter commercial service, as significant regulatory hurdles remain for the ailing system. Chief among these is the need to comply with European Union rules requiring that ownership of transmission assets and natural gas supplies be separated. The rule could prove to be complicated for Gazprom’s integrated structure.