On May 10, Ukraine notified Gazprom that it would stop receiving gas for transit through its Sohranovka gas-measuring station from 7 a.m. Moscow time on May 11. This event caused high-profile comments and also jeopardized the transportation of Russian gas.
Representatives of the UGTS (Ukrainian gas transport system operator) said that Ukraine will stop the transit of natural gas from Russia to Europe through the Sohranivka station in the Luhansk Region on the morning of 11 May. Employees of the UGTS of Ukraine claim the reason is the force-majeure circumstances, which make it impossible to further transport gas through the GMS and the border compressor station Novopskov.
Speaking about the reason for declaring force majeure, the UGTS refers to the fact that Russia’s seizure of the transit infrastructure has led to a change in its operating modes, “including unauthorized gas withdrawals from the transit flow,” which “threatens the stability and security of the entire Ukrainian gas transportation system.”
Up to 32.6 million cubic meters per day of gas passes through Novopskov from Russia to Europe, accounting for almost one-third of supplies. The operator stated that it is now unable to carry out operational and technological control of Novopskov and other stations due to military operations in the region.
In order to preserve gas transit to Europe, the Ukrainian operator suggested considering the temporarily transfer of unavailable capacities from Sohranivka to the Suja GMS, which is located in the territory controlled by Kyiv.
On the other hand, according to Gazprom spokesman Sergey Kupriyanov, “the National Joint Stock Company “Naftogaz of Ukraine” received a notice that in case of continuation of gas supply from the Russian side to the Sohranivka gas transmission system, the volumes at the exit points of the Ukrainian GMS will be reduced.
In this regard, Gazprom states that it has not received any confirmation of the circumstances of force majeure and sees no obstacles to continue work as before. Ukrainian specialists have been working quietly at the Sohranivka gas transmission system and Novopskov compressor station all this time and continue to do so, the transit through Sohranivka was provided in full, and there were and are no complaints from the contractors.
“Gazprom” fully meets all its obligations to European consumers, supplies gas for transit following the contract and the operator’s agreement, and transit services have been fully paid for. It is technologically impossible to transfer the volumes to the Suja gas metering station based on the Russian flow chart, the distribution of the volumes is stipulated in the cooperation agreement dated December 30, 2019, and the Ukrainian party is well aware of that”.
According to the transit contract, “Gazprom” supplied 65 billion cubic meters of gas in 2020 and 40 billion cubic meters per year in 2021-2024 (109 million cubic meters per day) to Europe through Ukraine. In 2021, the volume of deliveries amounted to 41.6 billion cubic meters.
At the same time, Ukrainian Naftogaz threatened Gazprom to continue paying for gas transit at any decision, despite Kiev’s attempts to disrupt supplies.
On April 27, Gazprom suspended gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria after the countries had not paid for the fuel in rubles. On May 2, TASS reported that Gazprom had not ordered gas to be pumped through Poland via the Yamal-Europe pipeline in Q3 2022, and the auction to book additional gas transit capacity through the Ukrainian Suja and Sohranovka gas distribution stations for the same period was canceled.
The Ukrainian decision to strop gaz transition through the Sohranovka GMS was commented by representatives of other countries. The positions on this issue turned out to be different.
The head of the press service of the US Department of State, Ned Price, commenting on the reduction of gas transit to Europe by almost one-third by the Ukrainian GTS Operator, said: “What we heard today only emphasizes what we knew. We knew that we had to respond quickly to disruptions in the global energy market.” The U.S. State Department official went on to emphasize that “The U.S. and countries around the world have already taken steps, the U.S. took action last month through an executive order to ban imports of Russian oil, energy products. Other countries have followed suit in their decisions.”
Meanwhile, the head of Moldovagaz, Vadim Ceban, stated that Moldova had not received any official notifications from representatives of Ukraine and Russia about the restriction of gas supplies.
Robert Fico, the leader of the parliamentary opposition and the “Course – Social Democracy” party in Slovakia, refused to attend a speech by Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, arguing that he “would not listen to someone who lies every day. According to Fico, Zelenski, “harms the interests of Slovakia” by demanding the suspension of oil and gas supplies from Russia daily. Along with Fico, several Slovak legislators refused to attend the Ukrainian president’s speech, calling the event a “masquerade”.
Zelensky’s words cost Europe dearly. To be more precise, they provoked price hikes in the gas market. The spot price of natural gas with immediate delivery in Europe jumped by 12.4%, from $980 to $1,100 per thousand cubic meters. The Kiev’s statement about stopping the supply of gas contradicts the statement made by Gazprom. The fact is that the existing contracts and obligations are still in force and the parties will have to fulfill them.
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