DIRECTING natural gas from the European Union to Ukraine if Russia stops supplying its western neighbour would fail to keep up with demand for long as supply capacity between the EU and Ukraine is too small, analysts say
Ukraine last year imported around 28 billion cubic metres (bcm) of natural gas from Russia.
Disputes between Russia and Ukraine, which consumes more than 50bcm of gas a year, have previously led to supply cuts for the EU, including in 2009 when hundreds of thousands of homes in south-east Europe went without heat in winter.
So far, Russia’s state-controlled Gazprom, which supplies around 30 per cent of the EU’s gas needs and sends a third of that gas through Ukraine, has maintained supplies to Ukraine during the crisis.
But to prepare for a possible cut-off, the European Union has plans to send gas from its own storage facilities to Ukraine.
“The country (Ukraine) has sufficient gas storage to hold it through a few months, and could also turn to neighbours for additional gas supplies via reverse flows on pipelines that could bring up to 10bcm (per year) of gas from Germany and Hungary through Poland and Slovakia,” political risk consultancy Eurasia Group said in a report this week.
Many other analysts say that the available capacity to pump gas from the EU to Ukraine is well below 10bcm, and Eurasia Group also warned that Ukraine would be likely to receive less.
One of the EU’s key plans to support Kiev in case of a supply cut by Russia is to use reverse flows to send gas to Ukraine, but at the moment the capacity to do so is limited.