Russian gas exports to EU seen dropping sharply in 2023, state bank VEB says

General view of VEB bank (Vnesheconombank) office building in Moscow

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's pipeline natural gas exports to the European Union may fall to 21 billion cubic metres (bcm) this year, almost two-thirds lower than last year and a more than a six-fold drop from 2021, Russian state bank VEB said in a forecast on Tuesday.

VEB expects total Russian natural gas exports to fall this year to 100 bcm from 131 bcm in 2022.

According to Reuters calculations, pipeline natural gas exports to Europe by Kremlin-controlled Gazprom have declined to around 17.7 bcm so far this year.

Europe drastically cut purchases of Russian oil and gas following the start in February 2022 of what Moscow has called a special military operation in Ukraine. Europe managed to overcome a feared energy crunch in the winter of 2022/2023 due to its efforts to reduce energy consumption and find other suppliers, such as sellers of sea-borne liquefied natural gas.

According to VEB's forecast, Russian gas exports to Europe are expected to fall to 15 bcm in 2026, while Russia would not be able to raise gas supplies to Asia significantly due to infrastructure constraints.

VEB also expects Russian crude oil exports to decline to 230 million tons (4.6 million barrels per day) this year from 248 million in 2022, amid a possible drop in supplies to the EU to 41 million tons from 115 million tons.

Earlier on Tuesday, Russian Deputy Prime Minster Alexander Novak said Russia will extend its voluntary reduction in oil exports by 300,000 barrels per day until the end of the year "to maintain stability and balance" on oil markets.

VEB forecasts that Russian oil exports will recover to 239 million tons in 2026 thanks to a boost in supplies to China and India.

(Reporting by Darya Korsunskaya; writing by Vladimir Soldatkin; editing by Paul Simao)