Nord Stream up, Ukraine down since Dec 22: Naftogaz

Russian deliveries of gas to Europe through Nord Stream rose ‘significantly’ from December 22 while the overall volume exported remained constant and transit volumes through Ukraine fell, said Naftogaz Ukrainy in a statement December 30.

Citing data from the European gas transmission system operators lobby group Entsog, it said that the use of Nord Stream/Opal rose from 57.1mn m³/d to 80.5mn m³/d, or 41% more over the week. This means Gazprom was using more than 80% of the capacity of Opal, compared with 50% before. The limit was set at 50% but allowed to go up to 80% from next year, a decision that Poland has sought to reverse.

Flows through Ukraine to Slovakia, by contrast fell, from 148.9mn m³/d to 120.8mn m³/d, or 19% less. Combining the daily totals gives a similar volume over the week: from 206mn m³ on December 22 to 201.3mn m³ on December 28, or down 2%.

Nord Stream’s landfall at Greifswald


(Credit: Nord Stream AG)

Entsog’s data throws into doubt the assertion that the European Commission’s decision to allow Gazprom greater use of Opal and its rejection of the standard European regulations would not lead to a drop in transit flows across Ukraine, said the state-owned company.

“The resulting situation gives grounds for believing that Gazprom is doing what it can to reduce transit flows through the Ukrainian transit system,” it concluded.

The European Commission has not given reasons for its decision to allow Gazprom to use more of Opal, perhaps owing to confidentiality commitments. To refuse it though might have exposed it to legal action from the other side. Gazprom is challenging the third energy directive which it says violates World Trade Organisation rules, among others. 

Gazprom has never pretended that Nord Stream 1&2 were anything but a way to avoid Ukraine, in order to deliver gas to major customers more cheaply and securely than would be possible by going through the Soviet-era Ukrainian system. Nord Stream 2 is still in the early construction phase.

According to the Russian Federation, the third gas directive – which mandates non-discriminatory third party access and the separation of ownership of energy supply from energy infrastructure – is inconsistent with a number of obligations and specific commitments of the European Union, says the WTO. These refer to the General Agreement on Trade in Services, the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures and the Agreement Establishing the WTO.

William Powell

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