Kiev is concerned that Russian-backed pipelines will completely bypass Ukraine as a transit country of Russian gas to Europe in the long run, Igor Mantsurov, director of the Scientific Research Institute of Economics at Ukraine’s Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, told New Europe.
“During the recent 10 years, we observe the extremely resolute politics of Russian Federation to reduce the gas transit volumes via Ukrainian territory. This is Moscow’s firm purely political decision to bypass Ukraine to increase political and economic pressure on our country,” Mantsurov said in an interview on March 28.
Russian gas monopoly Gazprom has stated that it plans to stop shipping gas through Ukraine after 2019.
European Commission Vice-President for Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič has repeatedly said that Ukraine should remain an important transit country for gas supplies from Russia to Europe.
Mantsurov argued that “economically all Russian projects do not make sense,” claiming that “North Stream 1 and 2, Blue Stream and South Stream are too expensive and will never be loaded more than two third of their total capacity compared to Ukrainian already existing gas transit system”.
Mantsurov argued that the Ukrainian gas transportation system (GTS) is economically preferable for Russian gas transit and its European consumers only if EU strictly observes its obligations under the Third Energy Package, prohibiting Russian gas monopoly Gazprom from 100% complete usage of the OPAL pipeline and European Commission is successful in reducing the dependence on Russian gas importers.
He said Ukraine could be a reliable gas transit country for Russian gas to Europe. “There has not been a single case recently when Ukraine stopped or paused the gas transit via its territory to the EU. Even when the contradictions with Russia escalated on the gas supply to Ukraine our country acted and will act according to the existing contracts,” he said. “In this regard the accusations of Ukraine from Russian side on the alleged stealing of transit gas are nonsense and they have been never addressed to the court. Ukraine is open to international cooperation in this field and ready to establish mutual control of the volumes of Russian gas transiting and stored in the underground storages,” he claimed. “Ukraine is willing to meet all the European standards in the field of energy,” Mantsurov stressed.
He reassured European consumers that Ukraine would be able to pump enough gas into underground storage this year. “Existing gas transportation network with Slovakia allows Ukraine to pump in 14,5 billion of cubic metres of gas per year without buying it from Russia. It means that Ukraine will be able to feel its underground storage capacities before winter 2016,” he said.
However, he noted that considering general inefficiency of Ukrainian energy system, the former Soviet republic couldn’t do without imported gas. “We expect the total gas consumption will be 35 billion cubic metres, which is less than previous year, but Ukraine will extract round 20 billion cubic metres. This means that we will have to import 15 billion cubic metres. The structure of the gas import from the previous year shows that 64% of gas was bought in EU, the rest – in Russia, i.e. this year Ukraine will have to import significant amounts of gas from Russian Federation,” Mantsurov said.