A pipeline to transport gas to Ukraine via Slovakia should be ready for pumping at full capacity starting in September, the head of Slovakia’s pipeline operator said.
EU member Slovakia, and Ukraine, signed a deal at the end of April that allows the European Union to send a limited amount of gas to Ukraine – but less than Kyiv had hoped for, in order to cushion the blow, should Russia turn off the gas [read more].
“With 90 to 95% probability, we should be able to ship 8 to 10 [billion cubic metres] per year already as of 1 September, depending that certain technical preconditions are met on both the Slovak and Ukrainian side,” Tomáš Mare?ek, chairman of Eustream, the Slovak pipeline operator, said yesterday (19 May).
The company wants to evaluate bids for booking the pipeline’s capacity by the end of June, Mare?ek said, although initial bids will be for less than full capacity and instead for flows that Eustream will be certain it can transport.
To help meet its annual consumption of about 55 billion cubic metres (bcm), Ukraine had been pushing to get up to 30 bcm by reversing flows on pipelines that are currently being used to import Russian gas into Slovakia. The Slovak government opposed such a move because of worries over contracts.
Under the current deal, Slovakia will make technical adjustments to an old, unused pipeline.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday the agreements between Ukraine and Slovakia did not violate agreements with Russia’s state-controlled firm Gazprom .
Gazprom has warned it will not supply Ukraine with gas from June unless Kiev pays at least $2.237 billion (€1.631 billion) out of a debt of over $3.5 billion (€2.55 billion).
Financially-strapped Ukraine has been anxious to obtain affordable natural gas since Russia tore up a discount negotiated under Kyiv's former president Viktor Yanukovich and this month raised the price it must pay for gas from Russian supplier Gazprom by 80%.
Relations between Ukraine and Russia have been in crisis since the pro-Russian Yanukovich was ousted by protesters seeking closer ties with Europe, prompting Russia to seize and annex Ukraine's Russian-majority Crimea region.
The gas price hike from $268.50 per 1,000 cubic meters to $485.50 imposed by Moscow on Kyiv could cut gas supplies from Russia to the EU through Ukrainian territory, Yuriy Prodan, Ukraine's minister of energy and coal industry said recently [read more].
Slovak Prime Minsister Robert Fico said on 10 April he supported projects to send gas to Ukraine but needed to ensure Slovakia gets paid and avoids violating contracts with Gazprom [read more].
On 28 April Slovakia signed a memorandum enabling reverse gas flows from Slovakia to Ukraine [read more].