Russian gas transiting Ukraine to the EU has hit record high levels, almost 300 million cubic meters a day, Serhiy Makogon, director of Ukraine’s Gas Transit System, writes on Facebook.
Ukraine Business News reports that Makogon speculates in his Facebook post that Gazprom may be accelerating pre-holiday sales in case gas to the Ukraine pipeline is cut off Jan. 1. In the event of a cutoff, Gazprom will have then stockpiled a maximum amount of gas in storage to sell in Europe. This would buy time for Russia to get Nord Stream 2 commissioned so it could deliver gas to Germany.
Two top German officials called Wednesday for Russian gas transit to continue across Ukraine into the 2020s. Foreign Minister Gayko Maas told reporters in Kyiv: “We support negotiations regarding gas transit through Ukraine. We believe that transit should continue after 2019.” Steffen Seibert, Germany’s government spokesman, told Interfax-Ukraine: “We are doing what we can do to solve this problem. The German position is that after the launch of the Nord Stream 2 gas transit through Ukraine should remain.”
With Russia-EU-Ukraine gas transit talks to take place next week, Ukraine’s Energy Minister Oleksiy Orzhel rejects Russia’s latest offer: a one year deal and an end to all legal claims. He said on Ukrainian TV: “The offer from Russia is unacceptable – to refuse arbitration and sign an agreement to use the Ukrainian GTS for only one year.” Tripartite expert-level consultations took place Wednesday via videoconference.
Separately, Orzhel said that if Russia cuts off the gas on Jan. 1, “Ukraine will not freeze.” He said on Ukrainian TV: “Today we have record gas reserves in underground storage facilities, and, accordingly, coal in warehouses. This means the main thing – Ukraine will not freeze this winter without transit. Even without transit, we will provide energy for every Ukrainian.” Reserves are high because of purchases over the summer and autumn with mild temperatures.