Saturday, 21 April 2012
Ukraine Helps Russia Fulfill Its Gas Supply Obligations To The EU
KIEV, Ukraine -- Upon Gazprom's request Ukraine increased its daily transit capacity of Russian gas to the EU by 17.3 million cubic meters or about 7 percent, reported the Ukrainian state gas pipelines and gas depots operator - Ukrtransgas. The request is associated with temporary repairs at the Russian North Stream gas pipeline. Experts suggest that this is to confirm the importance of Ukrainian gas transport system (GTS) for Russia. The capacity of Ukrainian gas transporting system amounts to 110 billion cubic meters per annum. Comparatively, the planned capacity of the Russian alternative to Ukrainian GTS - North Stream (NS) pipeline is up to 30 billion cubic meters per year. Up until now, though, NS has been operating at 30 percent capacity being able to transfer 27 million cubic meters per day which amounts to less than 10 billion annually. Russia launched the North Stream gas pipeline on November 8, 2011 and managed to pump through mere 3 billion cubic meters of gas up in about five months when it closed down the pipeline for the planned two-week repairs and maintenance. Gazprom informed its European partners that the closedown was necessary to tune up the control system, which will unite both branches of the gas pipeline in the future. Ukrainian GTS remains an important part of the European energy supply system, said Serhiy Diachenko, leading energy expert of the Ukrainian think-tank Razumkov Centre. Earlier, Gazprom together with the Russian government officials repeatedly claimed that launching alternative gas pipelines to the Ukrainian ones, particularly the North Stream and South Stream, will decrease Russia's dependence on Ukrainian GTS to almost zero. Until recently, Russia has been transferring up to 80 percent of its gas to the European consumers through Ukraine. In 2011 Ukraine declared its intention to import less Russian gas because of the steep price, which resulted in Russia exploring alternative gas transit opportunities and reducing gas transfer through Ukraine. As of the end of March 2012, Russia decreased the volume of gas transiting Ukraine by 50 percent, reported Ukrainian national oil and gas giant Naftogaz. This could be the consequence of the subsiding interest of European consumers in the Russian gas, whose demand just in March fell 23 percent, reported Ukrainian officials.