By Georgi Gotev
(EurActiv) — In the context of skyrocketing gas prices and calls for Russia to supply more gas to the EU, Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared to exclude Ukraine as a transit country for such additional supplies. However, he said Russia would fully comply with its present contractual obligations for the transit of gas through Ukraine to Europe.
Commenting on the possibility of increasing gas supplies through Ukraine, Putin recalled that Ukraine’s gas transport system had not been repaired “for decades” and that “something could burst” there at any moment.
“It would be possible to increase, indeed, supplies via the Ukrainian gas transport system. Only for Gazprom, this would be at a loss. As I said, Gazprom is saving about $3 billion a year by using the new pipeline system,” Putin said at a meeting on energy development, as quoted by the Russian RT website.
There is currently only one new pipeline system in operation – TurkStream, which supplies Russian gas under the Black Sea to Turkey and further to the EU via Bulgaria.
Nord Stream 2, the other pipeline supplying Russian gas to Germany under the Baltic Sea, has been completed but is not yet certified by the German and the EU authorities. Both pipelines circumvent Ukraine, a goal Russia has been pursuing since the 2009 gas crisis.
Putin explained that modern pumping equipment and new pipes allow increasing the pressure, which was not possible with the Ukrainian pipes.
“This cannot be done using the gas transport system of Ukraine, which has not been repaired for decades and something there can burst there at any moment, with unfavourable consequences for everyone: both for the transit side and for the consumer,” Putin said.
Putin hinted it was possible to think of a possible increase in supply on the EU market but “you need to do it carefully.”
During the meeting, the Russian president supported the calls to increase gas supply on the market amid rising energy prices in Europe but stressed this should be done not through the EU spot market but through the St. Petersburg Stock Exchange.
Putin also confirmed Russia would fully comply with its contractual obligations for the transit of gas through Ukraine to Europe.
Which pipelines leak more?
Asked by EURACTIV to comment, Sergiy Makogon, CEO of Gas TSO of Ukraine (GTSOU), rejected the allegation that Ukraine’s pipelines were decrepit and stressed that independent research, commissioned by GTSOU, confirmed that Ukraine’s investment programme was sufficient to guarantee reliable transit for the next 10 years.
“It was the gas infrastructure accidents in Russia that contributed to the European gas crunch,” Makogon said, referring to a fire at the gas condensate processing facility in the Yamal-Nenets region of Russia, which curbed gas exports via the Yamal-Europe pipeline last August.
“Ukraine introduced a costs-reflective tariff based on the European network code. Thus, out of $1.3 billion of the expected transit revenue for 2021, the majority will be spent on the operation, maintenance, and modernisation of our gas transmission system. According to the approved 10-year network development plan, GTSOU will allocate $1.5 billion to capital investments over the next 10 years,” Makogon said.
The Ukrainian CEO also used figures to illustrate that the Russian gas transport system ‘leaks” much more than the one in Ukraine.
“To objectively assess the accusations levied against GTSOU, let us consider the best available proxy measure that defines the quality of gas transmission infrastructure — downstream methane emissions,” Makogon said.
“The numbers collected by the International Energy Agency speak for themselves: 121 kilotons for Ukraine and 2,829 kilotons for Russia in 2020. For every 1 ton of methane our pipelines leaked, Russia’s leaked 23,” he said, quoting from the Methane Tracker Database of the International Energy Agency (IAE).