KYIV – With temperatures forecast to drop again this week, Ukraine officials say the nation has sufficient gas to last through the winter. A shart cold snap two weeks ago caused the highest withdrawals of gas from Ukraine’s reserves this heating season.
"Even if temperatures remain at the level of about below 10 degrees Celsius till the end of the heating period, according to the calculations we will have sufficient amount to satisfy the needs of gas in Ukraine – for the population, budget institutions and industry alike,” said Volodymyr Kistion, Ukraine’s Vice Prime Minister.
Gennadii Kobal, editor in chief of ExPro, a gas industry newsletter, said that the numbers back the government’s assertion.
“In the coldest days we have been withdrawing from storage 80 mcm per day - everything is working fine,” Kobal said by email. “Now we have 11 bcm in storage, of which half can be used, the other half is the buffer gas, and it looks like this will be enough to pass the winter.”
While such low gas reserves might have raised concern in years past, gas consumption is projected to remain lower than previous years.
According to Ministry of Energy statistics, gas consumption in the first 11 months of 2016 was down 6.2% against the same period in 2015. In turn, 2015 was down 21% from 2014. While some decreased consumption comes from gas price hikes, most is due to industrial stagnation, said Kobal.
Sufficient gas means that Ukraine will not have to turn to Russia for additional supplies this year. In his New Year’s address, President Petro Poroshenko emphasized that not purchasing Russian gas since November of 2014 was a “huge step towards energy independence.”
Instead of Russian gas, Ukraine has been importing from Slovakia, Hungary, and Poland at a daily rate of about 50 mcm, near the maximum capacity of 60 mcm.
Traditionally this gas has been imported by domestic companies. But French energy multinational Engie began importing gas from Poland into Ukraine on Jan. 1 under an agreement signed two months ago to transport and store gas on Ukrtransgaz’s network
Ukrtransgaz Director of Production Ievgen Todorov is working on similar partnerships with other European companies to further develop the Ukrainian gas market, according to a Ukrtransgaz press release.
Ultimately, he said, the goal is to create gas trading hubs based on Ukraine’s large gas storage facilities. Created during the Soviet era, many of these underground reservoirs sit unused.
For comments and news tips, please email Energy Correspondent Harvey Hinman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: Ukrtransgaz Director of Production Ievgen Todorov. (Ukrtransgaz)