MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian natural gas flows through the Yamal-Europe pipeline to Germany eased on Thursday morning, data from German network operator Gascade showed, but gas prices dropped despite ongoing uncertainty over Russian supplies this winter.
Gas prices rose this week after Germany's energy regulator suspended the approval process for Nord Stream 2, a major new pipeline built to bring Russian gas into Europe.
Flows via the Yamal-Europe pipeline into Germany at the Mallnow metering point on the Polish border were at an hourly volume of just below 11,800,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) by 1000 GMT on Thursday morning, down from around 12,300,000 kilowatt hours seen on Wednesday, the data showed.
The pipeline is one of the major routes for Russian gas exports to Europe.
Nominations for Thursday's volumes at the Velke Kapusany metering point on the Slovak-Ukraine border, another major route to Europe, were for 1.0 million megawatt hours or 94.4 million cubic metres, similar to previous days.
Germany's decision to suspend certification of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline could delay its commissioning until March next year, sources told Reuters this week. The Kremlin declined to comment on the specific timing on Thursday. [nL1N2S80Y6]
"No one can or should interrupt the (German) regulator's work. The company (the Nord Stream 2) is fulfilling all bureaucratic formalities to get this certification process done," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
Establishing a limited liability company in Germany as is now required can take several weeks or longer, if, for example, documents or evidence have to be obtained in the formats prescribed by German corporate registration law, lawyers say.
Nonetheless, European gas prices eased on Thursday morning in a highly volatile market, driven by a milder weather outlook in December and as other energy commodities also eased.
The European benchmark TTF front-month contract was down 3.70 euros at 91.80 euros per megawatt hour by 1020 GMT.
Oil prices slid to six-week lows on Thursday as China said it was moving to release strategic reserves.
(Reporting by Katya Golubkova and Dmitry Antonov in Moscow, additional reporting by Jason Hovet in Prague and Nora Buli in Oslo; Editing by Uttaresh.V and Peter Graff)