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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

Thursday, Nov. 20


SPIBA’s Legislation and Lobbying Committee is holding a round table discussion on the topic of “Decriminalization of Business and What is Important to Know?” The event will welcome lawyers from some of the city’s most prominent firms and discuss criminal defense practices, usage of the law in business regulations and how to lower the legal risks. Register by Nov. 19 for the event by emailing office@spiba.ru or calling 325 9091.



Friday, Nov. 21


Learn more about Russian labor laws at Labor Law Seminar 2014 at the Courtyard by Marriott St. Petersburg Center West Pushkin Hotel this morning at 166 Kanala Griboyedova. Sponsored by Baker and McKenzie and the Pepeliaev Group, the event begins at 9 a.m. and will discuss amendments to existing laws, employment terms, risks of termination and other pressing matters.


Educate yourself about educational careers at Education and Career XXI — November 2014, a two-day fair hosted at Lenexpo convention center on Vasilievsky Island that welcomes students and educators alike to develop relationships between scholarly institutions and learn more about the educational market in Russia and abroad.



Saturday, Nov. 22


Russian Premier League-leaders Zenit St. Petersburg return from the international break to take on Kuban Krasnodar at Petrovsky Stadium this evening at 7 p.m. Tickets for the game can still be purchased on the club’s website, at the Petrovsky Stadium box office or in any of the club’s merchandise stores.



Sunday, Nov. 23


Get in the holiday spirit at today’s Winter Bazzar at the Astoria Hotel. Featuring gifts from around the world such as French eclairs, Dutch cheeses and Indian jewelry, the annual event organized by the International Women’s Club will feature 18 international stands and raise money for charity through the sales of a diversity of products that further illustrate the city’s international connections.



Monday, Nov. 24


Dr. Axel Schulte, Department Head at Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics in Dortmund, Germany, is the featured speaker at the SPIBA Industrial Committee lecture on “The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Digitalization of the Supply Chain.” The event begins at 4 p.m. at the Graduate School of Management at 3 Volkohvsky Pereulok and registration is required by Nov. 21 either by emailing office@spiba.ru or calling 325 9091.



Tuesday, Nov. 25


Tag along with AmCham during their “Industrial St. Petersburg” Tour program today. This incarnation of the ongoing series will visit Philip Morris Izhora and include an Environmental Health and Safety Committee meeting.


Find out how to expand your business east during the “Business With China” forum beginning today and concluding tomorrow at the Lenexpo convention center. The largest Russian forum dedicated to business with the Asian giant, topics that will be discussed include logistics, customs clearance, trade financing and many more.



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