• 15 hours Oil Prices Rise After U.S. API Reports Strong Crude Inventory Draw
  • 15 hours Oil Gains Spur Growth In Canada’s Oil Cities
  • 16 hours China To Take 5% Of Rosneft’s Output In New Deal
  • 17 hours UAE Oil Giant Seeks Partnership For Possible IPO
  • 17 hours Planting Trees Could Cut Emissions As Much As Quitting Oil
  • 18 hours VW Fails To Secure Critical Commodity For EVs
  • 19 hours Enbridge Pipeline Expansion Finally Approved
  • 20 hours Iraqi Forces Seize Control Of North Oil Co Fields In Kirkuk
  • 21 hours OPEC Oil Deal Compliance Falls To 86%
  • 2 days U.S. Oil Production To Increase in November As Rig Count Falls
  • 2 days Gazprom Neft Unhappy With OPEC-Russia Production Cut Deal
  • 2 days Disputed Venezuelan Vote Could Lead To More Sanctions, Clashes
  • 2 days EU Urges U.S. Congress To Protect Iran Nuclear Deal
  • 2 days Oil Rig Explosion In Louisiana Leaves 7 Injured, 1 Still Missing
  • 2 days Aramco Says No Plans To Shelve IPO
  • 4 days Trump Passes Iran Nuclear Deal Back to Congress
  • 5 days Texas Shutters More Coal-Fired Plants
  • 5 days Oil Trading Firm Expects Unprecedented U.S. Crude Exports
  • 5 days UK’s FCA Met With Aramco Prior To Proposing Listing Rule Change
  • 5 days Chevron Quits Australian Deepwater Oil Exploration
  • 5 days Europe Braces For End Of Iran Nuclear Deal
  • 5 days Renewable Energy Startup Powering Native American Protest Camp
  • 6 days Husky Energy Set To Restart Pipeline
  • 6 days Russia, Morocco Sign String Of Energy And Military Deals
  • 6 days Norway Looks To Cut Some Of Its Generous Tax Breaks For EVs
  • 6 days China Set To Continue Crude Oil Buying Spree, IEA Says
  • 6 days India Needs Help To Boost Oil Production
  • 6 days Shell Buys One Of Europe’s Largest EV Charging Networks
  • 6 days Oil Throwback: BP Is Bringing Back The Amoco Brand
  • 6 days Libyan Oil Output Covers 25% Of 2017 Budget Needs
  • 6 days District Judge Rules Dakota Access Can Continue Operating
  • 7 days Surprise Oil Inventory Build Shocks Markets
  • 7 days France’s Biggest Listed Bank To Stop Funding Shale, Oil Sands Projects
  • 7 days Syria’s Kurds Aim To Control Oil-Rich Areas
  • 7 days Chinese Teapots Create $5B JV To Compete With State Firms
  • 7 days Oil M&A Deals Set To Rise
  • 7 days South Sudan Tightens Oil Industry Security
  • 7 days Over 1 Million Bpd Remain Offline In Gulf Of Mexico
  • 8 days Turkmenistan To Spend $93-Billion On Oil And Gas Sector
  • 8 days Indian Hydrocarbon Projects Get $300 Billion Boost Over 10 Years
Kobe Steel Scandal Could Rattle Nuclear Industry

Kobe Steel Scandal Could Rattle Nuclear Industry

The scandal at Japan’s Kobe…

Clashes In Kurdistan Send Oil Prices Higher

Clashes In Kurdistan Send Oil Prices Higher

Reports of skirmishes between Iraqi…

The Jamestown Foundation

The Jamestown Foundation

Founded in 1984, The Jamestown Foundation is an independent, non-partisan research institution dedicated to providing timely information concerning critical political and strategic developments in China,…

More Info

Ukraine Finds Itself Sidelined As Gazprom Advances With Nord Stream Two

At Russia’s initiative, the Nord Stream Two natural gas pipeline project has advanced from agreements of intent to a binding agreement; and Gazprom has formed the project consortium with several major European energy companies. Planned to connect Russia with Germany through the Baltic Sea by 2019, Nord Stream Two would double the Nord Stream system’s overall capacity to 110 billion cubic meters (bcm) of Russian gas per year, potentially replacing Ukraine as the main transit route for Russian gas to Europe (see EDM, September 10141517).

This project is inseparable from the context of Russia’s efforts to undermine Ukraine, through instruments ranging from military aggression to economic exhaustion. Specifically, Nord Stream aims to eliminate Ukraine from European energy transit systems (strategic goal), and in so doing, to deprive Ukraine of transit revenue (collateral Russian goal). The Kremlin’s even more ambitious goal, however, is to replace the Ukrainian transit route, which is free from Gazprom’s control, with a route to Europe fully controlled by Gazprom. Indeed, in Nord Stream, Gazprom is the majority stakeholder (its 51 percent stake is intangible), the sole authorized user of Nord Stream pipelines’ capacities, and the only authorized seller of gas at destination points in Europe. The project’s board chairman and the CEO, Gerhard Schroeder and Matthias Warnig, respectively, are (formally) Gazprom’s and (slightly less formally) the Kremlin’s nominees.

Thus, Nord Stream must be evaluated not only for its fiscal or other impacts on Ukraine but, more broadly, for its impact on the energy supply security of a number of European countries, and the challenges it poses to the European Union’s laws and common policies.

Related: This Is What Needs To Happen For Oil Prices To Stabilize

The target date for completing Nord Stream Two, 2019, coincides with the expiry of the Russia-Ukraine gas supply and transit agreement. With regards to the transit, Moscow’s public statements indicate that it will seek an entirely new agreement, reducing the transit flow through Ukraine, perhaps dramatically, if Nord Stream construction work advances as planned.

Russian gas transit volumes through Ukraine have steadily declined, from 110 bcm annually a decade ago (representing some 80 percent of Russia’s total gas exports to Europe) down to 85 bcm in 2013 (slightly more than 50 percent of Russia’s total) and 62 bcm in 2014 (some 40 percent of Russia’s total), and an anticipated 51 bcm for 2015 (about one third of Russia’s anticipated total figure) (Gazprom.com, accessed September 17; UNIAN, September 3). The slump in European demand has been the main cause, but the operation of Nord Stream One since 2011 became an additional factor reducing Gazprom’s use of Ukrainian transit pipelines. Gazprom anticipates European demand to recover by 2019 and thereafter.

Ukraine’s transit revenue has declined correspondingly with the volume decline. Ukraine earned some $4 billion for transit services in 2013, some $3 billion in 2014, and expects some $2 billion for 2015 in transit fees. These revenue losses are potentially destabilizing to Ukraine’s already precarious fiscal position. Ukraine proposes to negotiate an increase in transit fees as part of the current negotiations on the price of Russian gas supplies for 2016. Raising the transit fees is normal practice in situations when the transit volume declines. At the current level of transit fees, Ukraine’s transit system is expected to turn loss-making if the transit volume drops below 40 bcm per year.

Related: $50 Oil For 15 Years – Can Anyone Take Goldman Seriously Anymore?

The current transit fee is apparently set at $2.88 per one thousand cubic meters of Russian gas per 100 kilometers of Ukrainian pipeline. According to some reports, Kyiv proposes to raise that fee to a range of $3.70–$5.50 per one thousand cubic meters per 100 kilometers of pipeline, apparently depending on the transit volume to be agreed (Interfax-Ukraine, June 26, September 18; Ukrinform, September 10; Bloomberg, September 11; UNIAN, September 18).

Whether Nord Stream Two materializes as planned is still far from certain, given the project’s unresolved financial and legal issues. The signed agreement, however, in and of itself will discourage other Western companies from investing in the upgrade of Ukraine’s transit system, as long as the bypass threat hangs over that system.

For its part, the European Commission insists that Ukraine must remain a major transit route for Russian gas to Europe. The Commission encourages discussions about an international consortium that would buy into, and upgrade, Ukraine’s gas transit system, once Ukraine will have reformed its natural gas sector. Last year, the Ukrainian parliament authorized the formation of such an international consortium; and on April 15, 2015, the parliament approved the law on breaking up the Naftohaz Ukrainy state monopoly, with a view to separating the gas transit system from it, effective October 1, 2015 (Interfax-Ukraine, September 18).

Related: Oil Companies Running Out Of Options

If and when the construction of Nord Stream Two is completed (target date 2019) and then brought to full operating capacity (presumably within two years of completion), Gazprom will not abandon Ukraine’s transit system immediately on the agreement’s expiry (also 2019). Russian government and Gazprom officials indicate that they would negotiate a new transit agreement with Ukraine, albeit for low transit volumes for the years after 2019. This is because Gazprom’s long-term supply contracts in Europe, including those expiring well after 2019, stipulate specific points of delivery for the gas supplied. Presumably, Gazprom would have to adjust those points in order to switch those deliveries from the Ukrainian transit system into Nord Stream.

Russia's likely objective is to see Ukraine’s transit system disused for the most part, but still handling Russian gas deliveries to the Balkan region. Gazprom was planning to supply that region through South Stream or Turkish Stream, bypassing Ukraine; but those plans have failed conclusively. Hence, Gazprom will still have to use elements of Ukraine’s transit system in order to supply the Transnistria protectorate, Moldova itself (where Gazprom controls Moldovagaz), and farther downstream Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey’s westernmost provinces.

All those intentions presuppose the successful completion of Nord Stream Two. And that, in turn, may depend on special arrangements on the overland pipelines in Germany that feed from Nord Stream. While Russia has decided to turn Germany into a privileged transit country, those special arrangements have yet to be reconciled with the EU’s energy market legislation; and that will be difficult.

By Vladimir Socor via Jamestown.org

More Top Reads From Oilprice.com:

Join the discussion | Back to homepage

Leave a comment
  • Pampita on September 24 2015 said:
    A lot of propaganda in this article. Since the US-instigated Maidan coup in Kiev and the repeated transit disputes Russia want to bypass Ukraine after having offered billions in aid. It's the US game there that put Ukraine in this dire situation.
  • Alex on September 24 2015 said:
    The author does not know Kiev does not like to pay for the gas. All the time!
    It was the reason for the gas supply interruptions.
    Washington is the friend of the Kiev now. Why should not it help to Ukraine with the
    money to cover its debt?! Or it is the headache of Europe again, like the migrant crisis?!
    Look, U.S. has provoked migrant disaster invading into Iraq,
    destroying Libya, supporting islamists in Syria. And Europe has to pay for American policy!..
  • Amvet on September 24 2015 said:
    Naturally with the Ukraine under US control, Russia needs other routes for gas to the EU.
  • Amvet on September 24 2015 said:
    A typical US anti-Russian article.
    Naturally with the Ukraine under US control and the US wageing a propaganda war and an economic war on Russia, Russia is trying to protect its interests.
    The cat is out of the bag, it is widely known that we financed and directed the bloody coup in the Ukraine and chose the next leaders.
    Talk to Victoria Nuland and invent another propaganda tactic.
  • Gantal on September 22 2015 said:
    "This project is inseparable from the context of Russia’s efforts to undermine Ukraine, through instruments ranging from military aggression to economic exhaustion. "

    Say whaaaa?

    Why would Russia want to undermine its neighbor? Didn't we do that when we overthrew the Russia-friendly government?

    And the only military aggression we've seen is our own troops aggressively patrolling Russia's borders.

    Economic exhaustion? Russia offered Ukraine $15 billion when the country was in difficulty. No other country lifted a finger.

Leave a comment

Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News