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Memorandum on reverse gas supply to Ukraine unsigned, negotiations continue

The prepared memorandum of cooperation regarding reverse supply of natural gas from Slovakia to Ukraine was not signed on April 15, with the Ukrainian side calling Slovak offer unacceptable.

The prepared memorandum of cooperation regarding reverse supply of natural gas from Slovakia to Ukraine was not signed on April 15, with the Ukrainian side calling Slovak offer unacceptable.

Slovakia was represented by Economy Minister Tomáš Malatinský and Ukraine by Energy and Coal Industry Minister Yuriy Prodan, and the talks were also attended by a representative of the European Commission Klaus-Dieter Borchardt and representatives of infrastructure companies Eustream and Ukrtransgaz. Negotiations about the memorandum were held at the compressor station in Veľké Kapušany.

The negotiations will continue and are expected to be completed within two weeks, Prodan confirmed, as quoted by the SITA newswire. Malatinský stressed that Slovakia and the EU will seek such a solution that will not cause problems and will enable Slovakia to comply with all obligations and contracts.

In order to avoid international legal problems with partners of Slovakia, in particular Russia, it proposes to use for the reverse gas supply an unused pipeline with a diameter of 700 mm which was built in the past to supply gas for the power plant in Vojany. This solution would require building a short link outside the compressor station of Veľké Kapušany and to install special equipment to measure parameters of gas flowing from Slovakia to Ukraine.

The first gas supplies to Ukraine could be delivered in early winter. However, the volume would not be as large as Ukraine had expected. Initially, it would supply 3.2 billion cubic meters and this could gradually be increased to 9-10 billion cubic meters. The Ukrainians said on April 15 that the proposal is unacceptable for them, mainly because of the volume. They came up with another option which according to Prodan is cheaper and can be more quickly implemented. He said that four pipeline tubes lead to the compressor station at Kapušany are used only to 50 percent capacity, and he thus proposes to use for reverse supply a part of this spare capacity. He added that the Ukrainian side already has signed agreements for reverse gas supplies with Poland and Hungary.

Slovakia has already started working on the start of reverse flow of natural gas to Ukraine; on April 14, the Economy Ministry reported that it has issued a license for this activity to Eustream.

“The European Commission attaches great importance to these negotiations and reverse supply.” said the European Commission representative Borchardt, according to SITA. “This is not just a technical problem. Addressing this issue is of great political importance, because it is a signal of providing help to Ukraine and its gradual integration into the Union.”

“The trilateral talks between the European Commission, Slovak and Ukrainian sides are not completed yet,” Malatinský said, as quoted by the TASR newswire. “I’d say that now we find ourselves in the mid-phase. Some potential solutions with respect to the reverse flow have been submitted; we’re also drafting another alternative... discussion is still pending. Maybe the memorandum will be signed in the following days, but not today.” Borchardt added that Ukrainian proposal needs to be submitted for comprehensive analysis.

In early April, the Russian Gazprom company introduced two price hikes for gas supplied to Ukraine, which now pays almost twice what it did previously. In response to this, Kiev launched emergency talks with EU neighbours and has asked for help with gas supplies. Ukraine, currently reeling from intense economic and political crisis, covers half of its gas consumption with Russian supplies. Relations between Moscow and Kiev have frozen significantly since February, once pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovich was ousted from office by protesters on the Maidan (Independence) Square, TASR wrote.

(Source: SITA, TASR)
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.

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