Don’t panic. What really happens with gas prices in the EU

August 23, 2022

Last week, Russian Gazprom’s CEO Mr. Miller made a bold statement, predicting record-high gas prices in the EU, close to $4000 per thousand cubic metres. The German political circles promptly responded to this news. For instance, the Vice Speaker of the Bundestag Wolfgang Kubicki called for an immediate launch of the Nord Stream-2 pipeline. This managed panic was ignored by the Bundeskabinett, while the Federal Minister for Economic Affairs Robert Habeck ruled out the very idea of launching the long-delayed Russian construction project that, according to his words, may trample upon the values of the German people.
Having failed to obtain the desired result, the Kremlin proceeded with the next stage of pressure on the EU: it announced a shutdown of Nord Stream-2, starting from August 31, for three days for routine maintenance of the gas pumping unit. Most probably, such shutdowns will recur every 42 days, after the regimented 1000 hours of work and the need of another repair and associated stoppage of the pipeline.

One also cannot rule out the option of a long stoppage for a number of flimsy pretexts, such as: visual inspection of the body for cracks, debts, deformation, burn holes/spots, body cleaning; inspection of lubrication, air supply, gas combustion products discharge systems; check of joints and remedy of leakages; adjustment of blade inclination angles and verification of the accuracy of dovetail supports; check of safety valves for operability and adjustment of the air expenditure regulation system, etc.

Such an option would be unavailable, if Gazprom stopped playing the farce with the lost Siemens turbine. Instead, they themselves create conditions for the use of the economic stranglehold on the economies of Ukraine’s allies due to rocketing inflation against the background of the intentional increase in energy prices. That is why we see gas prices going up for the third month in a row at German and Austrian gas hubs: say, on the 22nd of August, they exceeded $2600 per thousand cubic metres. At the same time, spot gas prices in France do not exceed $1800 per thousand cubic metres, since the share of the Russian gas at that segment of the market is close to zero.

That is, the price race takes place solely due to reflections of the European importers of Russian gas, not because of the actual availability or shortage of natural gas on the EU market. Otherwise, how can one explain the fact that blue fuel is pumped to European gas storage facilities at rather a high rate, and today, they are almost 80% full, which corresponds to the statistic average level of the recent five years?

Furthermore, on the same day when Nord Stream-1 is stopped for the so-called repair, gas supply will be resumed from the Norwegian Troll gas field, whose volume is comparable with the lost capacities of the Russian pipeline. This means that there will be no significant changes in gas supply to the European market; on the contrary, since September, LNG supply is to grow, due to the resumption of the work of the US Freeport terminal, not shipping natural gas since June.

Everything in Russian politics rests on total lies and intimidations, in this particular case with gas prices in the EU looking like another act of energy terrorism.

Maksym Bielawski

Leading Expert, Energy Programmes

Born in 1986 in Zhytomyr oblast


Zhytomyr State Technological University (2008)

Ph.D in Technical Science (2010)

Ivano-Frankivsk National Technical University of Oil and Gas (2012)

Author of 17 patents and 100 scientific works

Work Experience:

2008 – 2011 — Operator of Gas Infrastructure Units, Controller of Gas Transmission System in Rivne Division of PJSC "Ukrtransgas"

2011 – 2017 — Leading Engineer, Deputy Head of Press-Service, Head of Public Relation Department of PJSC "Ukrtransgas"

2017 – 2018 — HR Director of PJSC "Maine Gas Pipelines of Ukraine", Advisor to the Minister of Energy and Coal Industry of Ukraine

2021 — Director of Integrated Communications of NJSC "Naftogaz of Ukraine"