FRANKFURT, Nov 1 (Reuters) – A major pipeline that normally carries Russian gas to Europe has been switched to flow east, a spokesman for the company that operates the system on the Polish-German border said on Monday.
The change in Yamal pipeline flows could raise concerns in Europe, which has seen gas prices spike amid rising demand and lower-than-normal storage levels as winter approaches, although the A spokesperson said it was not unusual.
“The pipeline can handle reverse flows (that is, both inbound and outbound), and it is not unusual for suppliers to use the eastbound direction,” said the spokesperson for the gas pipeline operator Gascade.
Gascade’s transparency websites showed that the flow in the pipeline changed on Saturday from entry into Germany to exit, something that should continue until at least November 2.
Russia has said it will start pumping gas to Europe when it finishes filling its own reserves, something that could happen on November 8. Some European politicians accuse Russia of withholding supplies, something Moscow denies.
German ministries said they have no information on unusual gas flows, while the energy regulator Bundesnetzagentur and the offices of major import utility companies were closed for the partial All Saints holiday.
The possibility of reversing the flows has been integrated into the infrastructure of the gas pipelines in recent years due to changes in the supply from Russia. An example is the arrival 10 years ago of Nord Stream 1, a route through the Baltic Sea for 55,000 million cubic meters of gas to reach Germany per year. Nord Stream 1 reduced Yamal’s role.
German gas stocks were at 71% of available storage capacity on Saturday, the website of the European gas infrastructure group GIE showed, compared to 94% a year ago.
(Reporting by Vera Eckert in Frankfurt and Christian Kraemer in Berlin; edited in Spanish by Carlos Serrano)
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