EU reaches out to Russia, Ukraine to resolve gas crisis

EPA/ROMAN PILIPEY/FILE PICTURE

Exhaust fumes rise from a Ukrainian heating plant in Kiev. Russian gas giant Gazprom remains set to terminate its contracts with Naftogaz.

Šefčovič vows to ‘follow the situation closely in order to ensure that the transit of Russian gas through Ukraine to the EU’


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European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič has reached out to Ukraine’s Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, Naftogaz CEO Andrey Kobolev and Russia’s Energy Minister Alexander Novak over the past few days regarding the situation with the Ukrainian gas system and gas imports from Russia.

According to the Commission, the conversations focused on Ukraine’s concern regarding pressure levels in the gas supplies from Russia, gas for transit to the European Union as well as a recent decision by the Stockholm Arbitration Tribunal, where Russian gas monopoly Gazprom was found guilty of underusing the Ukrainian transit system to deliver gas to Europe and ordered to pay to pay $4.63 billion to Naftogaz as a compensation.

“All existing commitments to supply and transit gas to the EU are being honoured,” the Commission said.

Regarding the situation in Ukraine, Šefčovič has been informed by Naftogaz that on March 5 the situation is under control after Ukrainian authorities enacted special measures to deal with the crisis and Naftogaz’ contracting additional volumes of gas from Poland to ensure stable supplies for the domestic market.

The European Commission has brought in the European Network for Transmission System Operators for Gas (ENTSOG) to monitor and help resolve the situation.

Novak gave his personal assurances that the transit of gas to the EU Member States will not be endangered and would remain stable, the Commission said.

Regarding the Stockholm Arbitration decision, Šefčovič has been informed that Gazprom remains set to terminate its contracts with Naftogaz. The procedure may, however, take some time and will not have immediate consequences on the gas flows.

“Gazprom has officially sent a notice to Naftogaz Ukrainy regarding the start of the procedure of the termination of gas supply and transit contracts in the Stockholm, because of significant damage of commercial balance between these two contracts,” Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller said on March 5.

Šefčovič encouraged both sides to find a satisfactory solution to this issue, saying “The European Commission stands ready to engage and mediate in a trilateral process, which in the past proved to be effective in bridging differences between the two parties. Due to the complexity and sensitivity of the issue, we will further explore the possibility of a similar bilateral process.”

He also said both Ukraine and Russia have confirmed their readiness to stay in close contact with the Commission which will closely be followed by Šefčovič “to ensure that the transit of Russian gas through Ukraine to the EU – as it remains our priority – is safeguarded at all times”.

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