BRUSSELS – Gazprom is spearheading the Nord Stream 2 project, which will double the amount of gas shipped directly to Germany from Russia, in an effort to halt Russian gas supplies to Europe via Ukraine, Deputy Minister of Energy and Coal Industry of Ukraine Igor Didenko told New Europe.
“Annually, Russian Gazprom is decreasing the amount of natural gas transported through Ukraine,” Didenko said on the sidelines of a debate at the European Parliament on April 6 about “Nord Stream 2: A Critical Challenge of the Energy Union”.
In 2015, Russian gas transit volume was around 67 billion cubic metres, according to Didenko. Nord Stream 2 will have a capacity totaling 55 billion cubic metres per year and Nord Stream 1 is not fully utilised, he said, doing a math calculation. “Russia is blackmailing everybody. They want the state of Ukraine to suffer as much as possible,” he argued.
Asked about plans to upgrade Ukraine’s pipeline system, Didenko said the country is transiting Russian gas to Europe without any problems. “Upgrading the pipelines is a good story but the existing technical situation of our pipeline is really good. We’re supplying gas without any problem, without any damages,” he said.
Kiev is working with the Energy Community to complete and implement energy sector reforms in Ukraine and install new legislation, Didenko said.
He expressed his confidence that Ukraine in the future will be able to fully cover its domestic market needs from Europe via reverse flow. “At the same time, the Ukrainian government is working hard in decreasing the consumption of gas in the whole country,” he said.
Asked if he saw any resolution with Russia, Didenko hailed the trilateral process between European Commission, Russia and Ukraine. “We’re quite happy with the result of this cooperation because this triangle is working because we don’t trust anymore Russia in bilateral format so we need a serious umbrella, a serious facilitator, mediator between our energy relationship as well,” he said.
He added that Ukraine is in the process of filling its underground gas storages. “I think after one week we will start the pumping, preparing for next heating season,” he said.
Meanwhile, European Commission Vice President for the Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič told the politically-charged debate on Nord Stream 2, which was also attended by Jerzy Buzek, chair of the European Parliament’s ITRE Committee, that Ukraine continues to be a reliable gas partner and transit country. “It is in the interest of all parties that Ukraine remains a significant gas transit corridor,” Šefčovič said in his speech.
“The European Commission stands ready to continue the successfully proven format and to enlarge the trilateral talks to the negotiation of a new transit contract between Russia and Ukraine, as the current one comes to an end in 2019,” Šefčovič said. Regarding Nord Stream 2, the European Commission Vice President reiterated that the project must comply with EU rules.
Facing alone a skeptical audience, Nord Stream 2 spokesman Ulrick Lissek presented the project’s business case at the European Parliament, noting that the new gas pipeline from Russia to Germany would add to market liquidity. “We’re not a monopolist,” he quipped, “we welcome competition”.
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