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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

Wednesday, Oct. 22


English teachers can expect to receive a few useful pointers today from Evgeny Kalashnikov, the British Council regional teacher, during the EFL Seminar this afternoon hosted by the British Book Center. The topic of today’s seminar is “Grammar Practice.”


Young Petersburgers will get the chance to jumpstart their careers at “Professional Growth,” a job fair and forum featuring more than 40 major Russian and international companies vying for potential candidates for future positions. The forum not only is a chance to network but also to learn more about the modern business world and to understand what it takes to get the job you want.



Thursday, Oct. 23


AmCham’s Public Relations Committee meeting is scheduled to meet this morning at 9 a.m. in their office in the New St. Isaac Office Center.


Sportsmen get their chance to stock up on all kinds of gear at the Hunting and Fishing 2014 exhibition starting today at Lenexpo. Everything from rods and reels to boats, motorcycles and equipment for underwater hunting will be on sale so that any avid outdoorsman can always be prepared.



Friday, Oct. 24


SPIBA’s ongoing “Breakfast with the Director” series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at “Sounds of the Universe,” a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the club’s website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit “Neophobia” at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s round table discussion on “Government Relations Practices in Russia” this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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