Tuesday

18th Jan 2022

Ukraine signs gas deal with Slovakia

  • Russia has almost doubled the price of gas in Ukraine (Photo: Naftogaz of Ukraine)

Slovakia is set to pump reserve natural gas to Ukraine in a reverse-flow deal signed on Monday (28 April).

The gas will run through the unused Vojany pipeline on the Slovakian side, managed by Slovak gas pipeline operator EUstream, to Uzhgorod in Ukraine.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

EUstream, along with its Ukraine counterpart Ukrtransgaz, aim to start pumping the gas sometime in autumn. The European Commission says it could amount to around 8 billion cubic metres (bcm) per year.

Despite around two years of negotiations, the move is in part framed by the escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine.

Russia supplied 30 percent of gas to Europe last year, with a significant amount transited through Ukraine.

At the signing ceremony in the Slovak capital Bratislava, EU commission president Jose Barroso, described the deal as one that "contributes to greater energy security in Eastern Europe and the EU as a whole".

Around half of Ukraine's 50 bcm of gas consumed annually is sourced from Russia.

With Monday's agreement, Slovakia becomes the third and largest contributor of reverse-flow gas to Ukraine in the EU after Hungary and Poland.

"Gas via Slovakia will bring a considerable addition to the volumes that Ukraine can already import from Hungary and Poland," noted EU energy commissioner Gunther Oettinger.

Ukraine had stopped the Hungary and Poland imports after Russian state-controlled energy giant Gazprom slashed prices in December.

The cut was part of a larger $15 billion loan and a 33 percent discount on natural gas offered by Russia to Ukraine's Yanukovich-led government.

The discounted $270 per 1,000 cubic metres price has since almost doubled with flows now picking up again from Hungary and Poland.

Russia cancelled its 2010 Kharkov Agreement after it annexed Crimea.

The agreement had given Ukraine a gas rebate in exchange for hosting Russia's naval fleet in Sevastopol port. Moscow says the port is no longer a part of Ukraine.

Gazprom also issued an ultimatum for Kiev to pay $3.5 billion in unpaid bills by 7 May or risk getting cut off, sparking fears many in Ukraine may be without heating next winter.

Industry sources told Reuters last month that Ukraine has enough gas stored up to last at least four months should Gazprom stop the flows.

At 31 bcm, Ukraine has the largest gas storage capacity volume in Europe with most of the facilities found in the west of the country.

The EU is pushing to increase the volume of Slovak flows.

EUstream, for its part, has not completely ruled out upping the volume by using another larger transit gas pipeline but said it may run into legal problems.

The larger transit line carries Russian gas to the European Union and is partly managed by Gazprom Export.

The Slovak company, which describes itself as the largest single carrier of Russian gas in the European Union, said it would first have to reach an agreement with its Russian counterpart.

News in Brief

  1. Maltese MEP Roberta Metsola elected EU Parliament president
  2. Swedish MEP wants fines for EU carbon villains
  3. One year on: EU urges Russia to free Navalny
  4. EU bids farewell to late parliament president Sassoli
  5. Sweden investigates drones over nuclear plants
  6. Argentina, Australia, and Canada face EU travel restrictions
  7. German minister takes EU message to Moscow
  8. Djokovic now also at risk of missing French Open

Opinion

Why Russia politics threaten European security

Russia could expand hostile operations, such as poisonings, including beyond its borders, if it feels an "existential" threat and there is no European pushback.

Analysis

Ten years on from Tahrir: EU's massive missed opportunity

Investing in the Arab world, in a smart way, is also investing in the European Union's future itself. Let's hope that the disasters of the last decade help to shape the neighbourhood policy of the next 10 years.

Latest News

  1. 'Hundreds' of Russian mercenaries in Mali, EU confirms
  2. Euro countries start haggling on fiscal rules
  3. New doubts raised on tracking ads ahead of key vote
  4. Time to stop China's economic hostage-taking of Lithuania
  5. James Kanter, Shada Islam are new editors at EUobserver
  6. The loopholes and low bar in Macron's push for a global tax
  7. No love for Russia in latest EU strategy
  8. New EU Parliament chief elected This WEEK

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us