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EU Claims Right to Reverse Flow as Russia Protests

Published: July 4, 2014 (Issue # 1818)




  • Photo: Gazprom

EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger on Thursday asserted European companies' right to sell Russian gas back to Ukraine, flying in the face of warnings from Russian energy giant Gazprom as tensions continue to build over energy policy.

Energy companies in the EU have an "absolute right to dispose of gas bought from Gazprom at their discretion, including delivering it in reverse to Ukraine," Oettinger said via his spokeswoman Sabina Berger, ITAR-Tass reported.

Moscow cut off gas supplies to Kiev in mid-June when Ukraine failed to meet a deadline to pay a $1.95 billion gas debt, despite extensive negotiations leading up to the deadline. Gazprom said Thursday that gas flows to the EU were continuing as normal, Reuters reported.

Gazprom head Alexei Miller said last week that the state-owned gas monopoly could retaliate against European countries if they were to sell its gas back to Ukraine through large-scale reverse gas flows.

"If we detect a reverse flow on gas-measuring stations in Europe, we may impose restrictions," Miller said, ITAR-Tass reported.

President Vladimir Putin supported Miller's position on Tuesday, although unlike Miller, Putin said that Ukraine was already taking gas intended for the EU. "In essence, [Ukraine] is getting our gas and they are paying one of our Western partners in Europe, who are not receiving these volumes," Putin said.

"We see everything, but are not taking any kind of action at the current moment so as not to aggravate the situation," he added.

Also on Thursday, Ukrainian gas company Naftogaz announced that 20 European companies, including the EU's largest gas traders, had bid to sell gas to Ukraine via Slovakia via so-called reverse flow.

"The extensive Ukrainian market is very interesting for Europeans," Naftogaz head Andrei Kobolev said, Prime reported.

In late April, Ukraine and Slovakia signed a reverse flow agreement that would make use of an old, unused pipeline to begin exporting 2 billion cubic meters, or bcm, to Kiev in October. Exports to Ukraine along this pipeline would rise to 8 bcm by early 2015.

Ukrainian energy officials have since proposed a plan to the EU Commission that would allow Ukraine to increase reverse flows via Slovakia to 30 bcm, Kommersant reported.

According to a UralSib report published Thursday, Gazprom would lose nearly $3 billion in 2016 if the EU accepted the proposal and began selling Russian gas back to Ukraine. The company would end up selling more gas to the EU where prices range from $360 to $380 per thousand cubic meters and gas is subject to a 30 percent export duty instead of Ukraine, where the price was previously set at $385 per thousand cubic meters, there is no export duty and transportation costs are lower.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Aug. 29


Park Pobedy will feature the sights and sounds of the world outside of Russia during the Open Art International Festival today. Taste foreign cuisine, learn how to make tea like the Chinese or relax in a hammock during the free event. Although entrance is free, you must register beforehand if you wish to attend.



Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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