Ukraine halting key Russian gas transport to Europe, blames Moscow

On Tuesday, Ukraine announced that it would suspend gas flow through the transit point. It claimed the transit point delivers nearly a third of the fuel from Russia to Europe via Ukraine. Moscow was blamed for the move. However, it stated it would move the flows elsewhere.

Even after Moscow’s invasion, Ukraine has been a major transit route for Russian natural gas to Europe.

GTSOU, the operator of Ukraine’s gas system said that it would stop shipping via the Sokhranivka route starting Wednesday. It also declared “force majeure”, which is a clause used when a company is affected by circumstances beyond its control.

Gazprom, however, has a monopoly over Russian gas exports via pipeline. It stated that it was technically impossible to transfer all volumes to the Sudzha interconnection points further west as GTSOU suggested.

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Sergiy Makogon, CEO of GTSOU, told Reuters that Russian occupying troops had begun taking gas through Ukraine to send it to two Russia-backed separatist areas in the country’s eastern. He did not cite evidence.

According to the company, it cannot operate at Novopskov’s gas compressor station because of “interference by the occupying powers in technical processes”. It also stated that it could temporarily shift flow to Sudzha physical interconnection point in territory controlled Ukraine.

Yuriy Vitrenko, head of Naftogaz state energy firm, said that Ukraine’s suspension in Russian natural gas flows via the Sokhranivka route shouldn’t have any impact on the Ukrainian domestic market.

The Moldovan state gas company, which is a tiny nation near Ukraine’s west border, stated that it hadn’t been notified by Gazprom or GTSOU that supplies would be cut.

Since February, when Moscow launched what it calls a “special military operations”, the Novopskov compressor station has been held by Russian forces and separatist fighters in the Luhansk area of eastern Ukraine.

It is the first compressor of the Ukraine gas transit system located in the Luhansk area. This transit route transports around a 32.6million cubic metres of gas per day or about a third of Russian gas that is piped to Europe via Ukraine, GTSOU stated.

GTSOU stated that it would temporarily transfer ineligible capacity to the Sudzha interconnection point in order to fulfil its “transit obligations” to European partners.

Gazprom stated that it received notification from Ukraine stating that the country would not allow gas transit to Europe via the Sokhranivka Interconnector after Wednesday, 0700 GMT.

According to the Russian company, there was no evidence of force majeure or other obstacles that would prevent it from continuing as before. Gazprom stated that it had fulfilled all its obligations to European buyers of gas.

In retaliation for the invasion of Ukraine, the United States has asked countries to reduce their dependence on Russian energy. They have also banned Russian oil and other imports.

Ned Price, a spokesperson for the U.S. State Department, stated Tuesday’s announcement did not alter the timeline to reduce global dependence on Russian oil.

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