EU pushes for information on Slovakia-Ukraine natural gas reverse flows
The EU is weighing in to speed up launching natural gas virtual reverse flows to Ukraine from Slovakia, an EU source close to the matter has told ICIS.
Representatives from the EU, Slovak transmission system operator (TSO) Eustream and Ukrainian officials will meet within a couple of weeks to discuss the matter, the source said on 4 October.
Following the previous meeting held in September, the European Commission is now waiting for Ukrainian TSO Ukrtransgas to confirm that the necessary information on Russian gas flows to Europe entering Slovakia from Ukraine matches on both sides of the border between the two TSOs.
Eustream has technical capacity for more than 80 million cubic meters/day of gas in reverse flow to Ukraine.
However, despite interest from German supplier RWE to sell gas to Ukraine via the Slovak border at the Velke Kapusany/Uzhgorod point, also supported by the Commission, Ukraine has so far been unable to import gas through the main border crossing for Russian gas en route to Europe.
The background to this lies in the Ukrainian-Russian gas supply contract, which has historically been closely bound to arrangements for the transit of Russian gas through Ukraine. Ukrtransgas does not have complete autonomy over its own transit lines for Russian gas at the border point. ICIS understands that Russian producer Gazprom does not provide Ukrtransgas with information concerning breakdown of volumes for its European customers, necessary for Eustream to safely implement reverse flow.
“In order to implement the gas flow [to] Ukraine it is necessary to ensure a standard data exchange between transmission system operators in accordance with European legislation.... The moment Ukrainian partners provide Eustream with the data, without which gas transport would not be possible at any point, reverse flow to Ukraine can be launched,” Eustream said.
It remains unclear whether the EU has also been in touch with Gazprom to provide information at the cross-border point. Gazprom is not involved in the current trilateral discussions.
Ukraine is pursuing imports of gas from western Europe as an alternative to supplies from its long-term contract with Gazprom, which it considers too expensive.
Ukraine’s incumbent Naftogaz began importing gas into Ukraine in reverse flow across its western border with Poland in the end of 2012.
The supplies came from RWE taking advantage of hub gas that was cheaper than Russian oil-indexed contract prices.
This was followed in 2013 by Ukrainian companies DTEK and VETEK importing gas into Ukraine over the Hungarian border at Beregdaroc. Gas had been physically reversed at that border point in April 2013, for around a week, but continuous reverse flow only took place from the start of June.
Eustream held an open season for physical reverse flows to Ukraine last year but shippers failed to submit binding bids for capacity in this interconnector. Matilde Mereghetti/Katya Zapletnyuk/Isabel Save
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