Ukraine continues to prepare for a “gas war” with Russia in 2020. On May 16, the head of Naftogaz, Andrei Kobolev, stated that gas transit through the territory of Ukraine is likely to be stopped from January 1, 2020, even if the Nord Stream-2 gas bypass pipeline is not completed by this date.
According to Kobolev, the Russian side has the technical ability to refuse transit and to make minimal gas deliveries to Europe under existing contracts. As calculated in Kiev, the deficit in this case will be 5 billion cubic meters of gas.
According to the head of Naftogaz, now Gazprom supplies gas to Europe at an accelerated pace to create additional reserves of the resource, which are already a record.
– In my estimation, which is also shared by our European partners, the likelihood that on January 1, 2020 we will receive a complete cessation of transit, as it was in January 2009, is quite high, – the official said.
In the “Naftogaz” also preparing for the cessation of transit and the “gas war”. After all, if Russia stops pumping gas through Ukraine, it will not be able to receive “blue fuel” from Europe by reverse. Just because there will be no extra volumes for Kiev in the West.
In addition, there may be a purely technical problem, since the reverse often exists only on paper. Deliveries are drawn up as reverse, in fact, no one drives gas to Europe and back to Ukraine – the necessary volumes simply remain in the country.
According to Kobolev’s plans, in order to protect himself and ensure the passage of the winter period, Ukraine needs to pump 20 billion cubic meters of gas into its underground storage facilities. Last year, 17 billion cubic meters of gas were accumulated at the beginning of the heating season at the UGS, this spring the balance was over 8 billion.
In recent years, Ukraine’s consumption in this area has more than halved due to the closure of a number of industrial enterprises, as well as the loss of Donbass. However, in the case of a cold winter or force majeure, last year’s volumes may not be enough. Therefore, Kobolev said about an additional 3 billion cubic meters.
The problem is that there is no money to buy additional gas. Moreover, Kiev does not buy from Gazprom, but from European intermediaries, which is more expensive. But Naftogaz is already hoping for new loans from the European Union or the United States to buy gas.
Recall that the gas transit contract between Russia and Ukraine expires at the end of this year. Negotiations on the new agreement have not brought results because of the position of the Ukrainian side. Kiev requires a mandatory volume of gas pumping at the level of 60-90 billion cubic meters per year for 10 years. Now transit is approximately 85−90 billion cubic meters. in year.
But it is clear that after the introduction of the Nord Stream-2 and the second line of the Turkish Stream, this volume will be reduced to 15-40 cubic meters (depending on the consumption volumes and whether Nord Stream 2 will be allowed to use at full capacity). Therefore, the requirements of “Naftogaz” are deliberately impossible.
A new stage of negotiations will take place at the end of May with the participation of representatives of the European Union. However, according to the deputy general director of the National Energy Institute, Alexander Frolov, as long as the current leaders of Naftogaz remain at their posts, they will lead nowhere. According to the expert, the Ukrainian side deliberately provokes a gas conflict and is now setting the stage in the European media and the establishment in order to blame Russia for the future crisis.
- Kobolev himself is engaged in one simple task — provoking a gas conflict with the Russian Federation, so that both Russia and the European Union suffer from it as much as possible, – says Alexander Frolov.
– It is obvious that he aimed “Naftogaz” precisely on this. Everything that Mr. Kobolev says completely contradicts the rhetoric of Gazprom, Russia and the European Union, as well as plans to put bypass gas pipelines into operation. Before us are the statements of an unprincipled hypocrite who keeps his post just because his presence there was provided by the “western partners” of Ukraine.
Why? Yes, because in 2020 Gazprom will not have a technical opportunity to fulfill contractual obligations to all existing European consumers, if the transit through the territory of Ukraine stops. Some countries, the same Southern Europe, will remain without gas. Moreover, he will not be able to do this, even if the construction of Nord Stream 2 is completed.
For the simple reason that Nord Stream II is a section of the gas pipeline system that connects the Yamal Peninsula with consumers in European countries. But the onshore continuation of the gas pipeline, which is being built in the EU, will not be ready by the beginning of 2020. Even according to the plans, it was not expected that by this deadline all the necessary facilities of this infrastructure would be completed.
That is why Gazprom, Vladimir Putin and Angela Merkel unanimously say that transit through the territory of Ukraine will continue. These are not just words, they are supported by plans for the development of gas transmission capacities that bypass Ukraine. And only one pan Kobolev runs and cries at all corners that Russia will start a gas war, and he is not guilty of anything.
I repeat, Gazprom is not going to stop the transit. And even if a contract is not signed with Kiev, he, most likely, will not do it, because there is no such task.
– And to sign a transit contract until 2020 is real or “Naftogaz” will do everything to disrupt the negotiations?
– Everything will depend on the behavior of Ukraine. How it will be adequate and negotiable. Now Kobolev is trying with all his might to create a point of tension for the new president of Ukraine and the team that he will lead.
The most interesting thing is that since February Kobolev should not have anything to do with the transit of gas, since the Naftogaz section was already obliged to begin within the framework of Ukraine’s European integration processes. According to European standards, the company should be divided into separate enterprises for the extraction, transportation and sale of gas.
In an amicable way, a contract for transit is needed not with Kobolev, but with the leaders of the company that will replace him. But where is this company, who are these people? This is not said not only to Gazprom, but even to Europeans.
Third countries, bypassing the sanctions, will be able to buy the latest military equipment of the Russian Federation through intermediaries
– You said that transit is possible even without a contract with Ukraine? How is this technically possible? Gazprom will drive gas, but Kiev will not pay?
– Similar precedents have already happen. For example, some time gas went to Armenia through Georgia without a contract, which was signed later. The irony is that Ukraine, even before the association agreement, signed documents with the EU, which indicated that it does not have the right to stop gas transit, regardless of whether it has a contract or not. European consumers are not interested in details – Ukraine should pump Russian gas, and that’s all.
Theoretically, the contract can be concluded later with the indication that the supplies that have already been made will be compensated. All volumes that enter and exit from the territory of Ukraine are recorded at gas measuring stations, and it is clear how much gas is pumped or how much it has been illegally taken.
In itself, the absence of a contract is not a problem, and you can make all the calculations after the parties finally agree. But for this we need normal business partners, but this cannot be said about Naftogaz under Koboliev. They headed for fomenting the gas war and firmly adhere to it, preparing the ground in the Western media.
– If the transit is still stopped, will Ukraine be able to secure sufficient gas reserves for the passage of winter?
– I have doubts that even if Kiev pumps 20 billion cubic meters of gas into its UGS, it will be able to fulfill its obligations to the country’s consumers. In addition, not so long ago, “Naftogaz” complained that he had no money for the purchase of gas. When the management of this company says that they urgently need to pump 20 billion cubic meters, 3 billion more than last year, because Russia will attack, I see this as a direct commercial interest of these people.
In fact, Naftogaz pushes money from the leadership of Ukraine and western partners in order to pump this gas into its storage facilities. This will require $ 750 million more than was spent on gas in 2018. And we can assume that some of this money will then disappear somewhere. And after that they cry that Russia is unleashing a gas war.