Slovakia has signed an agreement with Ukraine to reverse the flow of a natural gas pipeline that connects the two countries. The pipeline was constructed to send Russian gas through Ukraine and on to Slovakia, but the threat to Ukraine from Russia has the government in Kiev looking for ways to diversify away from its overwhelming dependence on Russian gas.
The pipeline is currently not being used, and the agreement will require engineering changes over the next several months. When completed, the pipeline could deliver 10 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually, which would be enough to meet around one-fifth of Ukraine’s gas demand.
“This is an important first step to diversify Ukraine's sources of gas supply and contributes to greater energy security in Eastern Europe and the EU as a whole,” EU President Jose Manuel Barroso said about the accord.
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The agreement comes after a series of other moves to improve Ukraine’s access to natural gas from its western neighbors. Ukraine also agreed to terms with the Hungarian government for natural gas flows.
Earlier this month, Germany brought a new natural gas pumping station online that reversed the flow of gas through the Yamal-Europe pipeline. The deal to do so was reached in 2012, long before the Ukraine crisis, but it has become operational at an opportune time, in that it will allow Poland to access energy in the event Russia decides to turn off the taps.
By Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com
Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com