London, May 11 - Neftegaz.RU. An increase in Europe's natural gas import requirements in the next 2 years could test the transit network for Russian gas, potentially even leading to Gazprom being unable to meet European demand and a spike in gas prices during high-consumption periods, analysts at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies (OIES) have warned.
The colder-than-average weather in Europe in February and March saw increased European demand for Russian gas, with the monthly utilization rate rising to 86% in March, the OIES said in a paper published Wednesday.
Gazprom supplies to the Far Abroad (Europe plus Turkey, but not the countries of the former Soviet Union) hit an all-time daily record of 713 million cu m on March 2. «The system is approaching full utilization during winter months,» the OIES said.
«Any further increase in Russian gas deliveries to Europe - northwest Europe in particular - in 2018/2019 could see a greater number of days on which the system is full should Europe experience another cold winter in the context of a continued decline in European gas production,» it said.
«If the rise in European import demand is substantial enough, this bottleneck could be sufficient to cause a 'shortage' of Russian gas relative to demand, and price surges on the European spot gas market.»
The only route that was not fully utilized during the cold weather was the Ukraine route via Velke Kapusany, while the other routes -- Nord Stream, Blue Stream to Turkey and the Yamal-Europe pipeline via Belarus and Poland -- were maxed out.
According to the OIES, flows via Velke Kapusany on the highest demand day of the winter - March 2 - were at 63% of capacity. «The relatively low volume of flows via Velke Kapusany in relation to capacity means that Ukraine is the only transit route with spare capacity in times of peak winter demand,» it said.