Russian gas flows east via Yamal-Europe pipeline for fifth day

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FILE PHOTO: A worker checks pipes at a gas compressor station on the Yamal-Europe pipeline near Nesvizh
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MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Yamal-Europe pipeline that usually sends Russian gas to Western Europe was operating in a reverse mode for a fifth day on Saturday, shipping fuel from Germany to Poland, data from German network operator Gascade showed.

Russian gas exporter Gazprom did not book gas transit capacity for exports via the Yamal-Europe pipeline for Sunday as well, auction results showed.

European gas prices climbed to a record high this week after Yamal switched direction but eased on Friday.

Russia said the flow reversal was not a political move, though it coincides with rising tensions between Moscow and the West over Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday said the reversal was because of a lack of requests from buyers.

Putin also said on Friday that Russia was "sidelined" by Poland in managing the pipeline and Europe had only itself to blame for soaring gas prices.

Flows at the Mallnow metering point on the German-Polish border were going east into Poland at an hourly volume of more than 1.1 million kilowatt hours (kWh/h) on Saturday and were expected to stay at these levels during the day, the data shows.

Putin has also said that Germany was reselling Russian gas to Poland and Ukraine rather than relieving an overheated market.

Gazprom spokesman Sergey Kupriyanov told the NTV channel that the company was ready to supply additional gas within its long-term contracts, which would be cheaper than short-term deals concluded on European spot market.

Reverse flows from Germany to Poland - and probably to Ukraine as well - stand at between 3 million cubic metres (mcm) and 5 mcm per day, he said, reiterating that accusations that Gazprom was undersupplying gas are "groundless".

Kupriyanov added that the gas is being taken off underground storage facilities that are already depleted.

Data from Slovak pipeline operator Eustream showed capacity nominations for Saturday's Russian gas flows from Ukraine to Slovakia via the Velke Kapusany border point were at 747,031 megawatt hours (MWh), slightly up from Friday's 739,843 MWh but below levels in recent weeks.

That drop was being balanced by higher nominations for flows from the Czech Republic to Slovakia, meaning that nominations for flows from Slovakia to Austrian hub Baumgarten were roughly stable compared with levels in recent days and weeks.

(Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin in Moscow and Jan Lopatka in Prague; Editing by William Mallard and David Goodman)

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