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Gas flow to Slovakia slowed

THE NATIONAL gas utility Slovenský Plynárenský Priemysel (SPP) reported a 10-percent reduction in Russian natural gas flow to Slovakia during the two days before the current issue of The Slovak Spectator went to print, but was quick to note that clients will continue to receive fuel as normal. Meanwhile, the Economy Ministry insists the country is better prepared for any potential shutdown of gas supplies from Russia via Ukraine than it was during the gas crisis of 2009. SPP, which operates the distribution pipeline network across Slovakia, has not specified the reasons behind the lower supplies and does not see the reduction as reason for serious concern.

THE NATIONAL gas utility Slovenský Plynárenský Priemysel (SPP) reported a 10-percent reduction in Russian natural gas flow to Slovakia during the two days before the current issue of The Slovak Spectator went to print, but was quick to note that clients will continue to receive fuel as normal. Meanwhile, the Economy Ministry insists the country is better prepared for any potential shutdown of gas supplies from Russia via Ukraine than it was during the gas crisis of 2009. SPP, which operates the distribution pipeline network across Slovakia, has not specified the reasons behind the lower supplies and does not see the reduction as reason for serious concern.

“This situation does not have any impact on supplies to any clients, from households to large industrial companies, and [the supplies] are secured to the full extent,” Peter Bednár, spokesperson of SPP, told the TASR newswire. “This is because the reduced supplies still represent a sufficient volume of gas for supplying all our clients, and simultaneously we can fill from them [underground] reservoirs that will be filled at 100 percent in the days to come.”

Contrary to this, Eustream which operates the pipeline that ships Russian gas via Slovakia further west, does not report any unexpected changes in shipped gas volumes.

“According to the state of this morning, related to transmission from the east to the European Union, Eustream didn’t record pressure reduction or a gas volume decrease at the Veľké Kapušany Compressor Station on the border with Ukraine,” Eustream informed on its website on September 11, adding that it registered an adjustment in deliveries of a specified volume over a defined period of time. “But reduced volumes are announced in advance and confirmed by related nominations [orders]. Thus, Eustream can conclude that the gas transport is in line with the confirmed volumes.”

Eustream officials said the company transports the gas volumes that arrive at the border and that it has no reason to scrutinise the causes behind the oscillations in the gas volumes ordered by their clients.

“The volume of transited gas depends on the supplier-consumer relations of the clients [shippers],” Eustream writes.

Neighbours report reduced supplies

Poland reported lower than requested natural gas supplies from Russia.

While on September 10 it reported that it was receiving 20 percent less gas than normal from Russia, on the following day the Polish gas transporter PGNiG said it received only about half of the natural gas from Russia that it had asked for on Wednesday, Reuters reported.

The German gas operator said on September 10 that its supplies of Russian gas were slightly reduced.

Gazprom said it was pumping the same amount to Poland, 23 million cubic metres a day, as it had been last week.

“Our volumes to Poland are not falling,” said Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov, as cited by Reuters.

Slovakia says it’s prepared

On September 10 the Slovak cabinet approved a report claiming that Slovakia is better prepared for a potential shutdown of gas supplies from Russia across Ukraine than it was in 2009, when the country was completely cut off from Russian gas for about two weeks. Slovakia is highly dependent on Russian gas imports, which amount to nearly 100 percent of its consumption. According to the report, as quoted by the TASR newswire, the country is better prepared thanks to alternative contracts for gas supplies and measures related to emergency gas reserves, as well as improvements in short and medium-term solutions in gas infrastructure.

SPP has a diversification contract for additional gas supplies that should be available to Slovak consumers should a crisis occur, TASR wrote. E.ON Ruhrgas should provide up to 500 million cubic metres of gas per year from its western resources to Slovakia in the event of a crisis. The gas reservoirs of three companies - Nafta, Pozagas and SPP Storage - contained 3.5 billion cubic metres of gas as of August 15, or 94 percent of their capacities, TASR wrote.

As far as the interlinking of the Slovak and Czech gas pipeline networks is concerned, technical measures have been adopted that will enable a reverse gas flow from the Czech Republic to Slovakia reaching 67 million cubic metres of gas per day. Another 23 million cubic metres of gas per day can be brought to Slovakia from Austria. Slovakia and Hungary’s gas transit networks were connected on March 27, and a trial run is expected to be launched in the latter half of this year. A contract for linking Slovakia and Poland’s gas pipelines was inked on November 22, 2013.

Reverse gas flow

Poland, Hungary and Slovakia ship gas to Ukraine via so-called reserve flows to help Ukraine, after Russian Gazprom halted gas supplies over a price dispute. The next trilateral meeting on the gas dispute between Russia and Ukraine, to be attended by an EU representative, is expected to take place in the coming days. The European Commission had proposed the meeting, also involving Kiev, for Berlin on September 20.

Slovakia launched a reverse gas flow via the Vojany-Uzhgorod pipeline on September 2. Tomáš Mareček, CEO of Eustream, specified for the Sme daily that the capacity of the Slovak-Ukrainian reverse flow has the biggest potential capacity of the three reverse flow pipelines to Ukraine. While the daily capacity of the Polish-Ukrainian reverse flow is 4 million cubic metres, the capacity of the Hungarian-Ukrainan reverse flow is about 6 million cubic metres. The daily capacity of Slovakia’s pipeline will eventually reach 27 million cubic metres.

The Vojany-Uzhgorod pipeline will transport gas to Ukraine at a rate of 10 billion cubic metres of natural gas per year from the beginning of September. However, it will not be capable of pumping at that speed consistently and, thus, the actual volume delivered will be less. Starting on March 1, 2015, it will be capable of maintaining that delivery speed on a permanent basis.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Volodymyr Groisman said on September 11 that his country needs an additional 5 billion cubic metres of natural gas to get through the coming cold season without difficulties, Reuters reported.

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