Ukraine can make Europe a force majeure. But Europe has to respond

Украина может устроить Европе форс-мажор. Но Европе есть чем ответить

© RIA Novosti / stringertoday will be another trilateral meeting on the issue of gas transit. The weak performance of all of the talks each time more increases the likelihood that a compromise to far, and the signing will take place next year. But by and large you can only wonder when the parties can agree whether this will happen before or after midnight. And if after then how much.What I can say with absolute certainty is that compared to the “gas war” of 2009 all interested parties (Gazprom as a guarantor of gas supplies to the EU, the EU does not want to freeze, and Ukraine — it is clear why) ready for a new conflict much better.

The problem of gas supply to European countries bypassing Ukraine there are two aspects. First, the possibility of physical gas delivery to all countries when reconfiguring supply schemes (presence of gas). Secondly, the shortage of available transit transport systems, taking into account the fact that the “Nord stream — 2” is not yet completed.

From the point of view of geography of deliveries of the Ukrainian transit is always divided into two directions: West and South.

For the southern route (Turkey, Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Macedonia) are now responsible “Turkish stream”. As built, both lines (and one of them has even nedozagruzheny), from the point of view of volumes in the region will be a surplus of blue fuel. Both lines of the “Turkish stream” is already filled with gas. The question remains, will it be possible to reach the pipes in the new scheme to all consumers in southern Europe. In General, there are no problems here.
We are actually talking about the reversal of the TRANS-Balkan pipeline (through the Ukrainian southern corridor) was supplied southern Europe and partly Turkey. Now this site will be “reversed” by Turkey and (while in theory) all importers will get their gas. But what will happen in practice is anyone’s guess. Anyway, Bulgaria has announced that it will be able to transport gas further to Greece and Northern Macedonia. Romania lot of gas is not necessary, since the country itself produces it. In the most difficult situation is Moldova, because even if you supply the country in the reverse mode, the entry point (formerly exit point for the future of transit in Romania) still located on the territory of Ukraine. And in General the gas transportation system of Moldova more integrated with the Ukrainian networks.

We should also mention the situation with Serbia. Traditionally this country was supplied by the Western Ukrainian corridor, but in the future, in the new configuration, in Serbia the ‘ blue fuel will flow via the southern corridor (gas from the second leg of the “Turkish stream”). However, the construction of the required pipeline to Serbia on the territory of Bulgaria is delayed, as a result, the country remains in the Western part of the route. When the gas in Serbia traditionally gets through the corridor Ukraine — Hungary. In the event of the termination of deliveries from Ukraine will have to reverse the flows so that in Hungary and Serbia the gas flowing from the West. In addition, in Serbia, there is an underground storage facility “Banatski Dvor” (450 million cubic meters). Anyway, the Russian government in early December has already promised Serbia in any event to supply the country with gas for the first two quarters. That suggests that reverse routes worked out (both from the point of view of their use and volumes).

With different reverses are likely to be supplied and Hungary, and Slovakia. Although the concept of the reverse in this case is not obvious. As the gas deficit will be offset by not so much increase of transit through “Nord stream”, how much extra lift from gas storage Europe.

It should be noted that now the OPAL, land continuation of the “Nord stream — 1”, underutilized due to recent regulatory restrictions on pumping. But in the case of force majeure is a high probability that the restriction will be removed. In addition, soon it will be possible to use the first thread land continuation of the “Nord stream — 2” (the pipeline EUGAL), which will be launched January 1, 2020. Even without running the marine “SP-2” this additional new infrastructure is useful to move gas through the territory of Europe.Therefore, the main question remains — is the amount. How long can you hold on to stocks?

This year pumped record volumes of gas to European underground gas storage (UGS). There is now slightly more than 100 billion cubic meters of gas (given the fact that the last two months, the fuel has already planned are taken from the repositories). For comparison, last year at this time gas was 20%, i.e. 20 billion cubic meters less. But Europe recent years have rarely finished the season with no gas in storage. Only in 2018 to the end of the withdrawal season they had 20 billion cubic meters, and the minimum value over several years. And last season, in March 2019, were left as much as 44 billion, despite the fact that the original fix was for 20 billion less than this year. In total, around 30 billion cubic meters (likely more) in the pod that is left.

If it is evenly split, say, two months, we are talking about an additional 500 million cubic meters daily. Moreover, on the main Western route of Ukrainian exports through Slovakia (because South volumes already out of date, and directions to Poland and Hungary small) volumes usually do not exceed 200 million cubic meters per day.

And still LNG, additional volumes which can attract from the market. In short, in order to comfortably last a month or two, all the conditions. In fact, even in 2009, when the gas war lasted less than three weeks, the situation looked nervously, but the main victims were the countries of South-Eastern Europe with a poor infrastructure. Now, when I added “Turkish stream” gas in storage and gas interconnectors in Europe has expanded, the problem will be even less.

Ukraine also problems with the blue fuel will not. A sharp decline in domestic consumption over the past five years made it possible to experience gas supply problems even in winter, relying on its own production and stockpiles a bit on the “reverse” deliveries. Possible deficit in Ukraine can be estimated by the amount of reverse procurement that, obviously, in the event of termination of transit disappear. Their volume usually does not exceed 40 million cubic meters, and often is at the level of 20 million and below. Of course, much depends on the weather. Now, for example import in reverse (from Slovakia and Hungary), is ten million cubic meters per day. That is, for two months (with an average import in reverse even at 30 million a day) Ukraine needs an additional two billion cubic meters of gas. This year, the country pumped five billion more than last year. And after last season a couple of cubic meters in storage has remained.All this means that if the parties do not make concessions for other reasons, from the point of view of the slab of gas supply for a couple of months no problems. But negotiations in this case will be longer than expected.

Well, we will witness probably the most large-scale regrouping of European gas flows in the conditions of force majeure.

Alexander Sobko

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