Russian President Vladimir Putin with the boss of the public company Gazprom, Alexei Miller
Russian gas flows to France will be completely dried up on Thursday, after the announcement Tuesday evening by the Russian giant Gazprom of the total suspension on this date of its deliveries to the French group Engie.
Gazprom Export has notified Engie of a complete suspension of gas deliveries from September 1, 2022 until receipt in full of the financial sums due for the deliveries, the Russian group said in a press release published Tuesday evening on his Telegram account.
Under a decree by Russian President Vladimir Putin signed at the end of March, Gazprom specifies that it is forbidden to deliver more natural gas to a foreign buyer if the buyer has not made the payment in full within the period set out in the contract.
Gazprom says it did not receive all of the sums due for July deliveries by the end of Tuesday.
Engie, contacted by AFP on Tuesday evening, declined to comment on Gazprom's announcement.
French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, wanting to reassure Engie customers, however said that the French group had found other sources of supply, without specifying which ones, on the TMC channel.
Deliveries of Russian gas to Engie had already dropped significantly since the start of the conflict in Ukraine, recently dropping to just 1.5 TWh (terawatt-hour) per month, according to Engie. This figure is related to total annual supplies in Europe of more than 400 TWh for Engie, adds the main gas supplier in France, of which the French State holds nearly 24%.
At the end of July, Engie assured that it had significantly reduced its financial and physical exposure to Russian gas, which already represented only about 4% of its supplies. It is completely within the margin of the flexibility of our portfolios, so we are not at all worried, said its general manager Catherine MacGregor at the time.
The group recalled that measures had already been put in place to be able to supply its customers even in the event of an interruption in Gazprom flows.
Last Thursday, France's gas stocks exceeded the 90% filling threshold for the winter (91.47% Tuesday morning), according to the European platform Aggregated Gas Storage Inventory (AGSI), and France is on track to meet its target of 100% by November.
In terms of gas arrivals, we still see today injections which continue to be completely in line with our forecasts and will allow us to be able to arrive at the start of winter with a filling rate which will be optimal for the whole of French territory, assured AFP Pierre Chambon, general manager of Storengy France, a subsidiary of Engie specialized in storage, on Tuesday.
French government spokesman Olivier Véran confirmed the target would be achieved by the end of the summer, but warned that this did not mean France would have enough gas to spend the winter if the Russians cut it off and if we consumed a lot of it.
A defense council devoted to the country's gas and electricity supply will take place on Friday under the aegis of President Emmanuel Macron.
Between pipeline maintenance and contract disagreements, a winter with zero Russian gas is the main scenario for Europe, says Simone Tagliapietra, a researcher at the Brussels-based Bruegel Institute.
Since Western countries imposed sanctions on Moscow after it launched its offensive against Ukraine, Russia has repeatedly cut gas supplies to Ukraine. ;Europe, which is highly dependent on it. Russia accounted for some 40% of EU gas imports until last year.
Gas prices have exploded on the Old Continent, approaching historic records in recent weeks (452 dollars per MWh in session) due to expected Russian supply suspensions between on August 31 and September 2 via Nord Stream 1, due to pipeline maintenance, according to a Gazprom announcement.
Before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it was around $104 per MWh.