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EU Not Interested in Extending Russian Gas Transit Deal via Ukraine

The European Union (EU) has “no interest” in extending the transit agreement for Russian natural gas supply to EU countries via Ukraine, EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson said on Thursday.  

The gas transit deal, with which EU members including Austria and Slovakia receive Russian gas via a route crossing Ukraine, expires at the end of 2024.

“We have no interest to prolong the trilateral gas transit agreement with Russia, which will expire by the end of this year,” Commissioner Simson told a meeting of an EU Parliament committee, as carried by Reuters.

“Based on our preliminary analytics, there are alternative solutions to supply these countries who still receive some gas through the Ukrainian route,” Simson added.   

The EU has been looking to ditch Russian gas since the Russian invasion of Ukraine two years ago, and has managed to cut the share of Russia’s gas in its imports to less than 10% from more than 33% before the war in Ukraine.

Most recently, one of the EU members still most dependent on Russian gas, Austria, signaled it would be looking to reduce its dependence on Moscow, including by seeking to end a long-term deal that Austria-based energy giant OMV has with Russia’s Gazprom.

Russian gas deliveries to Europe have fallen off a cliff since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but some European customers in central Europe continue to receive Russian gas via the route through Ukraine and a pipeline via Turkey.

Ukraine has already signaled it would not engage in talks with Russia about an extension of the gas transit deal.

“The position of the Ukrainian side is unambiguous: the transit contract expires at the end of the year,” the press office of Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal told Bloomberg News last month, after Slovakia had hinted that negotiations could be a possibility.

“We are not going to talk to the Russians and extend the contract,” Ukraine says.

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Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said last month that Russia could use alternative routes to send pipeline gas to Europe if the current Russia-Ukraine gas transit deal is not extended beyond its expiry date at the end of 2024.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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