News / Economy

EU Struggles to Unpick Knot of Russia-Ukraine Gas Logistics

Pipelines are seen at a gas border delivery station of pipeline operator Eustream in the eastern Slovak town of Velke Kapusany, near the border with Ukraine, April 15, 2014.
Pipelines are seen at a gas border delivery station of pipeline operator Eustream in the eastern Slovak town of Velke Kapusany, near the border with Ukraine, April 15, 2014.
Reuters
Unprecedented talks across the European Union on Tuesday showed it scrambling for solutions on the ground to break its dependence on Russian gas and help supply Ukraine.

The EU faces a daunting task in quickly overcoming a mountain of logistical challenges, avoiding breaking binding contracts and making sure Ukraine does pay up for gas.

Russia supplies 30 percent of Europe's gas needs. It has threatened to cut off supplies to Ukraine because of debts reviving fears of a repeat of supply crises across Europe of 2007 and 2009.

Offering some relief for Ukraine, Germany's RWE began deliveries of natural gas on Tuesday, marking an initial step in EU efforts to boost supplies to Kyiv.

Sending gas to Ukraine from the EU is a powerful weapon.

The Russian state gas export monopoly Gazprom has long protested against the scheme, saying it feared its gas destined for Germany would be re-exported to Ukraine in breach of contracts.

RWE said it is a mixture of gas supplies from many sources, and Ukraine could get as much as 10 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas per year under a framework 2012 agreement.

That would be a big boost to Kyiv - allowing it to cut Russian gas imports by a third - especially after Moscow nearly doubled the gas price it charges Ukraine, tearing up a discount agreed with the previous pro-Moscow president.

Delivery challenges

The problem would be to deliver the gas to Ukraine, which has annual gas consumption of 55 bcm.

Polish pipeline operator Gaz-System said it could deliver 1.5 bcm annually, Hungary can probably send another 3.5 bcm to Ukraine, while Romania has the potential to send 1.8 bcm, but there has been no firm agreement on its deliveries.

Slovakia is the EU's best-placed member to pump gas to Ukraine but reversing flows along any of the four pipelines that take Russian gas to it via Ukraine would require an agreement that doing so does not violate current contracts with Gazprom.

Slovakia and Ukraine failed to reach an agreement on Tuesday on reversing the flows, Slovak Economy Minister Tomas Malatinsky said.

Instead, the two sides are considering signing a memorandum later in April on a proposal to reopen a disused pipeline to take some gas out of a main East-West line, on the Slovak side of the border, and loop it back into Ukraine.

The link could supply more than three bcm annually to Ukraine from October, rising to around nine bcm by next spring.

”The memorandum which is prepared is a certain step toward reverse supplies from the European Union, but I am saying openly that given the situation - a very exceptional situation - we would need substantially more,” Ukrainian Energy Minister Yuri Prodan told reporters.

South Stream

While reverse flows would help cushion the effects of a Russian export cut during mild-demand summer months, analysts say they would not be sufficient in the winter.

Some countries in Europe are even more reliant on Russian gas than Ukraine, including Bulgaria, where the energy minister said on Tuesday he had discussed importing gas from Azerbaijan should Russia cut off supplies.

”We are carefully monitoring the situation in Ukraine. We discussed short-term actions so that we can guarantee gas supplies,” Dragomir Stoynev told reporters after meeting Azeri counterpart Natik Aliyev.

Aliyev said the pair discussed delivery of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Greek ports and from there to Bulgaria.

Neither Azerbaijan nor Greece have the LNG terminals to provide such cargoes at the moment.

Russia pressed ahead with its South Stream natural gas link to Europe which aims to bypass Ukraine and help Moscow increase its share of the continent's supply, especially in southern Europe.

Following previous gas rows with Kyiv, Russia has invested billions of dollars in new pipelines, including Nord Stream, which brings additional gas to Germany bypassing Ukraine.

South Stream is planned to pump gas into Bulgaria and from there further into the EU by the end of the decade.

Gazprom's partner in the project, Italy's Eni, has said the future of South Stream has been put in question by the escalating dispute over Ukraine.

The EU has also postponed clearing the project.

Despite the crisis in relations, the consortium running the South Stream project said it would start laying the first stretch of pipes this fall.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8896
JPY
USD
119.26
GBP
USD
0.6475
CAD
USD
1.2451
INR
USD
61.816

Rates may not be current.