Ukraine ready to join trilateral gas talks in Brussels

Alexander Novak and Maroš Šefčovič in Moscow on 25 November 2016. [Commission]

Ukraine is ready to join trilateral talks to discuss gas issues with Russia on 9 December in Brussels, the country’s state energy company Naftogaz said on its Twitter account yesterday (5 December).

For a third consecutive year, the EU will mediate between Ukraine and Russia in securing Ukraine’s gas purchases from Russia, which are also needed to secure the transit of Russian gas to the EU.

Vice-President for the Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič has been trying to strike a trilateral deal, called “Winter Package”, since summer. The European Union is eager to mediate between Kyiv and Moscow, because in 2009, when Gazprom stopped deliveries to Kyiv, the country used gas destined for Europe for its own domestic consumption, and left several EU countries in the cold.

Sefcovic embarks on third trilateral gas talks on Ukraine

Vice-President for the Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič said he will visit Kyiv on 2 September to discuss energy reforms and lay the groundwork for trilateral talks with Ukraine and Russia that he hopes will help ensure uninterrupted gas supplies in the winter.

But this time both Ukraine and Russia were reluctant to engage in trilateral talks. Ukraine said it will try to deal without Russian mediation. The former Soviet republic has not bought gas directly from Russia since November 2015, following a breakdown in relations after Russia’s annexation of Crimea and support for pro-Russian separatism in Ukraine’s war-torn east.

Ukraine’s Naftogaz will try to deal with Gazprom without EU mediation

Ukrainian gas company Naftogaz issued a statement on Wednesday (8 June) indicating that it will consider purchasing gas from Gazprom, if the price is competitive, via direct contacts between the two companies.

For its part, Gazprom said EU help is not needed and that a pre-payment from Ukraine was enough to make gas flow again.

Gazprom says EU not needed as mediator for gas sales to Ukraine

Russia’s Gazprom yesterday (2 October) played down the EU’s decision to ease access to the Opal gas pipeline, crucial to Moscow’s plans to boost supplies via the Baltic Sea, and dismissed the bloc’s role as mediator in a row with Ukraine.

Šefčovič visited Moscow on 25 November and assured his host, Energy Minister Alexander Novak, that Ukraine has means to purchase gas and will receive additional funds in the near future.

The Russian agency TASS quoted Novak saying that Russia may supply an additional 1.5 to 4 billion cubic meters of gas to Ukraine, and that this possibility would be discussed at the trilateral meeting between Russia-EU and Ukraine.

Finally, Ukraine’s Naftogaz confirmed its readiness to participate in the trilateral meeting in Brussels.

The European Union relies on Russia for about a third of its gas. More than half of that arrives via Ukraine, but since ties between Russia and Ukraine hit rock bottom, the potential for disputes over pricing and other issues has accelerated.

To ensure safety of gas supply, Ukraine’s underground gas storage needs to be filled, the replenishment usually taking place until mid-October. The Commission recently said that the current gas storage level was only enough in case of a mild winter.

Putin warns Merkel Russian gas piped to EU could be siphoned off in Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday (14 November) of the risk of Ukraine siphoning off Russian gas destined for Europe, the Kremlin said.

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