The essence of the agreement is as follows. Berlin will achieve a 10-year extension of the transit of Russian gas through Ukraine after 2024 and will ensure that Russia does not use energy resources as a weapon. Germany and the United States will help Kiev reduce its dependence on gas and its transit.
– Everything is very ambiguous and will depend on a lot of factors, – says Valentin Zemlyansky. – Firstly, Ukraine can keep the volumes of gas transit that it has now. Conventionally, this is about 40 billion cubic meters. At the same time, Nord Stream 2 will not interfere with this at all.
Secondly, the volume of transit may decrease, but Gazprom will compensate for the costs of the contract, which expires in 2024…. Thirdly, the idea of a consortium with the participation of Germany may be resurrected 20 years later. At the same time, it should be noted that I do not believe in a complete stop of transit, because the Ukrainian direction will still remain in demand. The Ukrainians will not die, in some format the country’s GTS will be involved, another question is how great the losses will be.
Probably, in the worst case, the volume of gas transit through Ukraine will be reduced to 20 billion cubic meters. But this is not a problem of geopolitics, but of a Ukrainian operator. Ukrainian managers had to reform their own gas transportation system. Initially, it was clear that the European Union and Russia would negotiate without Ukraine’s participation. So it was necessary to carry out optimization, form a competitive proposal, and so on. In the end, the problem is not with Gazprom, but with European consumers, who have decided that it is more profitable for them to purchase gas via a different route. Today, the capacity of the Ukrainian GTS is 70-80% surplus in some places …
– And if Kiev fails to make an attractive offer, will transit still not decrease below 20 billion?
– There will still be some kind of transit, but the question will arise about what expenses the operator bears to maintain the system. The less transit, the more expensive the GTS service is.
– That is, for the Ukrainians, the price of gas can rise?
– Well, they are already frightening us with this, and there is a certain logic in this. After all, you need to shift the costs somewhere. The government says that the gas transit tariff may grow 4 times. First, we pumped 80-90 billion cubic meters of gas, then 40, and soon we can move to 20 billion. Here is the result. On the other hand, the growth of the gas transit tariff will not hit the pocket of ordinary Ukrainians too much – their payment will increase by 2-3%. Although, against the background of already high prices, any additional growth will be perceived negatively.
But again, this problem has nothing to do with Nord Stream 2. The situation had to be sorted out by engineers who needed to disconnect something, reconfigure something, and so on. But they decided to turn the engineering issue into a political one, therefore, when the time came, the country was not ready for the new reality.
– By the way, Zelensky recently said that Russia can blackmail Ukraine with gas transit if it refuses to comply with the Minsk agreements. In your opinion, is it real?
– This is precisely unnecessary politicization. If we are at war, then what kind of gas transit can we talk about at all? If we have a disgusting, but still partner relationship, we must sit down at the negotiating table.
I have not yet seen the final agreement between Germany and the United States, but, most likely, Berlin will become the overseer of gas transit through Ukraine, and this will solve the problem. From a political and legal point of view, it would be logical if all this was formalized in a German-Ukrainian consortium, which will transfer Ukraine to a green economy, and so on. For Germany, this will definitely be the most optimal option, because it has long since begun the transition to hydrogen, and the Ukrainian GTS will come in handy along the way so as not to incur additional costs.
– Did I understand correctly that if Germany tells Gazprom that it wants to receive gas through Ukraine, it will pump it through Ukraine and nothing else?
“This is usually how it happens. Gas transmission points are specified in contracts. True, Russia can find a formal reason why it will declare that it cannot carry out the delivery along the chosen route. But, based on long-term partnerships, such problems do not arise.
– With the worst case it is clear, but what will happen in the best case?
– This can happen only after the degree of conflict between Kiev and Moscow decreases. The best option would be not just a gas transit consortium, but the use of Ukrainian underground gas storage facilities. Ukraine will be engaged in the storage of Russian gas on its territory, which will be intended for European consumers. That is, Kiev will act as a buffer and guarantor of providing Europe with blue fuel. Geographically and technically, there are all the possibilities for this, but everything depends on the political component.
– And before the war, wasn’t it?
– Until 2014, it was not so legally. Gas was transferred at the Russian-Ukrainian border to Ukrtransgaz, which then dragged it across Ukraine to Uzhgorod and there transferred it to Gazprom-export. That is, legally, Ukraine did not supply Europe with gas, it worked only with a Russian supplier. Now the situation has changed, and if we are talking about the most positive scenario, Kiev can retain its status as a full-fledged player in the issue of Russian gas transit to Europe.
– If poverty and death from the cold are not threatening Ukraine, why then is the official Kiev so worried?
– Firstly, I want more money. Due to Nord Stream 2, Ukraine will lose $ 2-2.5 billion. Secondly, for a long time Ukraine followed in foreign policy in the wake of the United States, which opposed Nord Stream 2, and nothing was done inside the country in order to minimize the risks.