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Ukraine Wants To Be EU Gas Player

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YALTA – Ukraine will still remain the main transit country for Russian gas supplies to Europe even if the South Stream and Nord Stream projects are implemented, Kyivenegro Chairman of the Supervisory Board Ivan Plachkov told New Europe in an interview on 24 October.

“Any attempts to build the South Stream or Nord Stream by Russia are really in my opinion politically motivated and there can hardly be any precise forecast for this, but I’m not exactly sure these projects will be brought to closure,” Plachkov said on the sidelines of the IV International Black Sea Economic Forum in the historic Livadia Palace. His comments followed a discussion on an outlook for gas supply in the Black Sea region by 2020.

“Even if these are implemented, Ukraine will still remain the main country for gas transport to Europe,” he said, adding that this is economically viable. He added that without the Ukrainian gas storages the Russian, Ukrainian and European gas transportation systems cannot work or perform reliably. “So I’m not particularly concerned that Russia will succeed in circumventing Ukraine,” Plachkov said.

He noted, however, that Ukraine is also looking for other sources of gas to strengthen its negotiating position. In terms of energy independence, Ukraine is trying to reduce consumption through energy saving measures. Moreover, the former Soviet republic is trying to build up its own production and to diversify the delivery via European countries using reverse transportation via Poland, Hungary and Slovakia.

“The total volume of the reverse transportation runs to 10-12 billion [cubic metres]. That’s totally sufficient to secure Ukraine’s independence from the Russian gas deliveries. Personally, as a minister of energy in three governments, I have no particular concerns for the future,” Plachkov said, referring to the governments headed by Valeriy Pustovoytenko, Yuriy Yekhanurov, and Yulia Timoshenko.

He said Russia’s efforts to use oil and gas as a means of expansion and political intervention dates back to the Soviet times. “It’s a really complex political question,” he said.

Plachkov said Ukraine cannot “exclude Russia from the equation altogether. But Ukraine’s position will be stronger for a win-win partnership”.

The Ukrainian government is trying to diversify its gas supplies due to the high prices the former Soviet republic pays for Russian gas. Russian gas monopoly Gazprom has been reluctant to compromise on the revision of its pricing formula. It also strongly opposes as illegal any attempts by Ukraine to escape Russian dependence by organising reverse supply from EU countries.

Asked if there is a political willingness to reach a compromise with Russia, Plachkov said “this willingness will emerge very soon, especially after Ukraine signs the agreement with the European Union”. Ukraine must become a bridge between the European countries and Russia because Russia and Europe need each other, he said.

“Why is France in good terms with Russia? Why is Germany in good terms with Russia? Italy has good relations, too. So how come Ukraine doesn’t have a very good relationship with Russia and yet things are developing positively in our relationship with Europe? When we sort this political situation out this will provide perfect integration and will secure economic growth particularly for Ukraine,” he said.

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Co-founder / Director of Energy & Climate Policy and Security at NE Global Media

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