MOSCOW, October 13 – PRIME, Maxim Rubchenko. Kiev’s hope that the European Commission will force Hungary to refuse Russian gas supplies bypassing Ukraine has collapsed. Now Ukrainians are seriously thinking how they can survive the coming winter.
THE WEST DIDN’T HELP
The contract between Russia’s Gazprom and Hungary for the supply of gas bypassing Ukraine is in line with European laws, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Josep Borrell said. “As far as I know, there is nothing illegal in this deal between Hungary and Gazprom, nothing that would be contrary to European legislation,” the diplomat said.
The reason for Kiev’s appeal to the European Commission was a long-term contract concluded at the end of September for the supply of Russian gas to Hungary. Under its terms, the fuel will not be supplied through Ukraine, as it is now, but through Serbia (from the Turkish Stream) and Austria.
In this regard, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry stated that the actions of the Hungarian side do not comply with the principles of the Treaty on the Foundations of Good Neighborliness and Cooperation between Ukraine and the Hungarian Republic of December 6, 1991. Kiev called the decision of Budapest “exclusively political, economically unjustified, taken to please the Kremlin and to the detriment of the national interests of Ukraine and Ukrainian-Hungarian relations.” The Ukrainian authorities have demanded that the European Commission evaluate the new gas contracts between Gazprom and Budapest for compliance with European energy legislation.
The result was not the one expected in Kiev. Even despite the fact that during the Ukraine-European Union summit this week, the Ukrainian president tried to convince the EU representatives of the need to preserve gas transit through Ukraine in full. “It is very important for us to preserve the gas transit that goes through our territory, because no one wants to lose two billion dollars a year,” Volodymyr Zelenskyy said frankly.
However, the representatives of Brussels did not even discuss the possibility of putting pressure on Budapest in connection with the new gas contract, which was hoped for in Kiev. The head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, only said that the commission shares Ukraine’s concerns about gas supplies and recommended increasing investments in renewable energy and in improving the energy efficiency of the country’s economy.
“In the long term, it is very important for Ukraine, as well as for the European Union, to invest in non-carbon sources of energy, as well as in improving energy efficiency, since this will allow not to waste or waste energy,” said the head of the European Commission, explaining that the transition to “green” energy will free Ukraine from the need to import gas.
In the meantime, according to von der Leyen, the European Commission, together with Ukrainian experts, is studying various scenarios for ensuring sufficient gas supplies to Ukraine in order to prevent a critical decrease in pressure in the country’s gas transportation system.
However, it will hardly come to that. As of October 1, there were 18.8 billion cubic meters of gas in Ukrainian gas storage facilities, which Ukratransgaz called a sufficient volume for a safe passage of the heating season. In 2011 and 2019, this volume was only 17.9 billion, and in 2016 – in general, 14.5 billion cubic meters, the company recalled on its website.
However, independent Ukrainian experts are not so optimistic. “At the same time, at the beginning of the heating season last year, 28.3 billion cubic meters of gas were stored in the UGS,” reminds economist and financial analyst Alexei Kushch. “Besides, now 10 million cubic meters are exported to Europe every day.”
According to his calculations, 4.8 billion out of 18.8 billion cubic meters of accumulated fuel is the so-called buffer gas to maintain pressure in the gas transmission system, it cannot be taken from storage facilities. Another 2.8 billion “cubic meters” in Ukrainian storage facilities belong to non-residents and 0.8 billion – to private Ukrainian companies. In total, Ukraine has 10.4 billion cubic meters for the heating season, while 9 billion cubic meters are enough for its safe passage.
“At first glance, there are enough reserves,” notes Kushch. “But we have never entered winter against the background of such scanty indicators of Russian gas transit through our GTS. , the volume of transit was 82 billion cubic meters per year. That is, having minimal reserves, it was always possible to physically withdraw Russian gas from the pipe, closing these volumes with a virtual reverse. year, and that’s it. ” Accordingly, the possibilities for a virtual reverse will be minimal.
“Last, comparatively warm winter on the coldest days, the average daily demand for natural gas was about 180 million cubic meters, and on some days it jumped up to 200,” recalls Vladimir Gnoevoy, head of dispatching at the Ukrainian company “YE Energy”. that this year underground storages will be able to withstand such a selection. The maximum that they can give out is 90-110 million cubic meters. If frosts, as forecasters promise, begin in December and last until February, with a probability of 99.9% we should expect a breakdown of the heating season “.
In addition, Oleksiy Kushch notes, for the first time Ukraine faced a combination of minimum sufficient gas reserves and critically low coal reserves in power plant warehouses. “As of October 4, coal reserves in Ukraine at TPP warehouses amounted to 713 thousand tons, although they should have grown to 2.5 million tons,” he points out. “Lagging behind the accumulation schedule is 3.55 times! Compared to previous years we have the filling of coal reserves at the level of 30-40% “.
Volodymyr Gnoevoy is sure that Ukraine will suspend the work of a significant part of industrial enterprises this winter due to a shortage of gas and electricity. “In this case, the freed up volumes of fuel will be enough to cover the needs of the population. But such a scenario can hardly be considered a salvation. After all, the shutdown of the industry will have a bad effect on the solvency of citizens, who are unlikely to be able to pay for natural gas and heat even at a social price,” the expert notes.
The entire current model of the heating season in Ukraine is based on expectations that literally from January 1, 2022, Russia will rush to fulfill its transit obligations, adds Aleksey Kushch. If Gazprom pauses for several days, while regularly paying for non-existent transit in accordance with the terms of the contract, all hopes will collapse and a full-scale energy crisis will break out in Ukraine.
“Gazprom” could easily arrange this, the Ukrainian expert is sure, but fortunately for Kiev, Vladimir Putin recently announced that Ukraine should not be allowed to freeze. “It turns out that the entire current energy strategy of Ukraine is based on the verbal promises of the Russian president,” states Kushch.
On October 13, Vladimir Putin recalled that the deterioration of the Ukrainian gas transportation system is, according to various estimates, 80-85%. “Everyone is hinting to us – increase supplies through Ukraine,” he said, speaking at the plenary session of the Russian Energy Week on Wednesday. “It is dangerous to increase. …
According to the Russian president, the launch of Nord Stream 2 could relieve tension, but administrative barriers so far do not make it possible to do this.