Ukraine cuts off Russian gas to Europe and threatens mainland supplies

Russian gas flows to the Europe via Ukraine fell into a room this Wednesday, the 11th, after Kiev has shut down a key transit route, blaming Russian separatists for stealing the product. The measure could affect a third of Russian gas transiting Ukraine. This is the first time that exports by the country have been interrupted since the invasion.

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“Ukraine is no longer responsible for the transmission of Russian gas through Ukrainian territories under Russian military occupation,” the statement said. naftogaz, Ukraine’s national gas company, on Tuesday in a statement. The company said it notified the Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned gas supplier. The Russian government spokesman, however, denied the notification.

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According to Naftogaz, Russian forces occupying parts of eastern Ukraine have made it impossible to operate in these areas or communicate with facilities that oversee the flow of gas from Russia to Europe via Ukraine. The company said the Operator of the Gas Transmission System of Ukraine (GOTSU) it could no longer “execute uninterrupted and effective operational and technological control” over its facilities in Russian-occupied territory.

The GTSOU said that gas from Russia would no longer be accepted at the transit point of Sokranivkawhich straddles the border between Russia and the contested region of Donbas, from 7:00 am local time (13:00 GMT). At 6:55 am local time, according to the GTSOU, Gazprom “closed the gas valve on the main Soyuz gas pipeline in Russia,” halting transit through Sokhranivka.

Logo of Russian energy company, Gazprom, Bulgaria.  Photo: Spasiyana Sergieva/Reuters
Logo of Russian energy company, Gazprom, Bulgaria. Photo: Spasiyana Sergieva/Reuters

Gazprom shipped 72 million cubic meters of gas to Europe on Wednesday, Reuters reported, citing the company – about a third below the previous day.

Ukraine remains a key transit route for Russian gas to Europe, even after Moscow launched what it calls a “special military operation” on Feb.

The transit point closed by Ukraine usually handles about 8% of Russian gas flows to Europe, although European states have said they are still receiving supplies. The Ukraine corridor mainly sends gas to Austria, Italy, Slovakia and other eastern European states.

Naftogaz said the decision to suspend transit through these areas could affect a third of Russian gas exports through Ukraine, which would have implications for less than 3% of natural gas demand in the country. European Union and not United Kingdomaccording to data from the International Energy Agency.

The measurement takes place when the EU member states again disagreed on Wednesday on the terms of a possible future ban on Russian oil imports. in response to the war in Ukraine.

The EU said it planned to cut Russian gas imports by two-thirds by the end of the year, but did not go so far as to promise a total ban, as announced by the US president. Joe Biden in March.

Last month, the Bulgaria and the Poland refused to pay for Russian gas through a new payment mechanism and had their supplies interrupted.

‘Separatists stealing gas’

When asked about disruptions in the transit of Russian gas through Ukraine, Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov said: “Russia has always fulfilled and intends to fulfill all its contractual obligations.” According to him, Gazprom did not receive advance notice of the move from Ukraine.

Naftogaz CEO Yuri Vitrenko said Wednesday that “pro-Russian separatists” backed by the Russian army “are stealing gas that Ukraine should be responsible for”, calling the case ironic as Russia has accused Ukraine in the past of steal gas from your pipelines. An accusation that Kiev has denied.

The GTSOU said it discovered “unauthorized shipments of gas in transit” from its pipelines to territories controlled by Russian forces in the Donbas, which likely took place on May 9.

“Due to the direct interference of the occupants in the modes of operation of the [sistema de transmissão de gás] Ukrainian government, the GTSOU was forced to declare force majeure at the Sokhranivka entry point,” the operator said.

Naftogaz said it offered an alternative: transferring the affected gas supply to another transit station under Ukrainian control. The company said the move to the other station, called Sudzha, would not bring additional costs or technical challenges and would allow Russia to “maintain transit through Ukraine and fulfill its obligations to European partners”.

But a Gazprom spokesperson said on Tuesday that the Ukrainian proposal was “technologically impossible” and added that the company saw no reason for the declaration of “force majeure”.

Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kuprianov said work on the Sokhranivka transit point and adjacent Novopskov processor had not been interrupted by the conflict and added that moving Gazprom’s supply to Sudzha would violate a 2019 agreement on volume distribution. of gas.

Meanwhile, Naftogaz’s Vitrenko said Wednesday that the company “cannot confirm Gazprom’s claims that it is technically impossible to transfer transit from Sokhranivka to Sudzha IP,” adding that Gazprom has done so before.

GTSOU said the volumes were diverted to Sudzha in October 2020 when repairs were carried out on the Sokhranovka route. At that time, the company said, Sudzha was dealing with 165.1 mcm per day – far more than Tuesday’s total flows through Ukraine of 95.8 mcm.

“Consequently, the claims that it is impossible to carry out the transfer of flows from Sokhranovka to the Sudzha point are false,” the GTSOU said in a statement on Facebook.

Russian gas replacement

Wednesday’s outage raised the European gas benchmark price for the third quarter to €100 per megawatt-hour on the open market. The price is more than 250% above the level of a year ago.

Most European countries have reduced their dependence on Russian gas in recent years, but the country remains the EU’s main supplier. Some countries have alternative sources of supply, although replacing all Russian flows poses a challenge, given that the global gas market was tight even before the war in Ukraine.

Italy, which last year consumed 76 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas, imported about 40% from Russia via Ukraine. In addition to Russian flows, Italy also has gas pipeline connections from Algeria, Libya, Azerbaijan and the North Sea.

Slovakia’s Economy Minister Richard Sulik said the flow of gas from Ukraine to Slovakia was stable and there were no signs of supply problems. Austrian energy group OMV said its gas deliveries were running according to orders.

Alongside Ukraine’s transit corridor, Europe also receives gas via Poland via the Yamal-Europe pipeline and via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline under the Baltic Sea to Germany.

Germany’s energy regulator said gas imports were generally flat, despite a 25% drop at the German-Czech border at Waidhaus, offset by higher volumes from Norway and the Netherlands.

Europe is racing to build up a reserve of stored gas before winter to help deal with potential supply disruptions and reduce Russia’s influence.

EU gas inventories are about 37% full, according to data from Gas Infrastructure Europe, an improvement from a few months ago but still below normal for the time of year.

“The knock-on effect of removing yet another pipeline from Europe’s gas network will make it more difficult for countries to meet their storage targets and accelerate Europe’s plans to move away from Russian gas imports,” said Zongqiang Luo, an analyst at Ristad. Energy.

“As the European gas network is well integrated, no country is likely to experience any immediate impact, but this will put even more pressure on the system and put a floor on the downward movement of prices,” he added.

Ukraine pushes Russian forces

As the gas situation causes apprehension in Europe, Ukrainian forces reported battlefield gains on Wednesday in a counterattack that could signal a shift in the war’s momentum.

After days of advancing north and east of the second largest city in Kharkiv, Ukrainian forces were just a few kilometers from the Russian border on Wednesday morning, a Ukrainian military source told Reuters on condition of anonymity. Before the advance, Russian forces were on the outskirts of Kharkiv, a city 40 km from the border.

The advance appears to be the fastest Ukraine has made since driving Russian troops out of Kiev and the north of the country in early April. If sustained, it could allow Ukrainian forces to threaten supply lines to Russia’s main strike force and even place rear logistical targets within Russia itself within Ukrainian artillery range.

So far, Kiev has confirmed few details about its advance into the Kharkiv region. “We are having success in the direction of Kharkiv, where we are constantly pushing the enemy back and releasing population centers,” Brigadier General Oleksi Hromov, deputy head of the Main Directorate of Operations of the General Staff of Ukraine, told a briefing. , without providing details.

The president Volodmyr Zelensky said the successes are putting Ukraine’s second-largest city – under constant bombardment since the early days of the war – beyond Russian artillery range. But he warned Ukrainians not to raise their expectations just yet./REUTERS and W.POST

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