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Kyiv Pursues Additional Reverse Gas Flows In Preparation For Potential Russian Gas-Transit Cutoff

Since Ukraine's gas-transportation system is designed for output, pipelines need to be upgraded to open so-called reverse gas flows. 

Ukraine's state-run gas-transport company, Ukrtransgaz, is preparing to open another reverse-flow point for the import of an additional 1.5 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas by January 1 in anticipation of Russia halting gas transit through the country when their contract expires at the end of the year.

In an August 19 news release, pipeline operator Ukrtransgaz said the fuel will come from Romania via Ukraine's shared border with Moldova, where gas-metering stations will be upgraded on both sides to accommodate the expected volume of gas.

"For Ukraine and Moldova, this project is of strategic importance, because by diversifying the gas-supply routes, both states will increase their dependability and the uninterrupted supply of gas to their customers," Ukrtransgaz said.

The additional volume is the equivalent of 15 percent of last year's total imports.

However, the 50-kilometer stretch of the modernized gas line will cross Transdniester, Moldova's pro-Russian breakaway region. Ukrtransgaz didn't focus on the issue of Russia possibly interfering with this gas flow.

Since Ukraine's gas-transportation system is designed for output, pipelines need to be upgraded to open so-called reverse gas flows.

Ukraine already receives gas this way from Slovakia, Poland, and Hungary. Kyiv stopped importing gas from Russia in November 2015 after Moscow invaded Ukrainian territory and annexed its Crimean Peninsula the previous year.

Ukrtransgaz said it was currently in talks with its Romanian counterpart, SNTGN Tansgaz, as well as other countries to receive the gas from the Trans-Balkan pipeline.

In 2018, Ukraine imported 10.6 billion cubic meters of gas, or one-third of what the country consumed.

Fears that Russia's Gazprom will completely stop gas transit through Ukraine next year, when Moscow's Nord Stream 2 pipeline network goes online, are forcing Ukraine to store higher volumes of gas in underground storage facilities ahead of winter.

Ukrtransgaz operates 12 gas-storage facilities that have a total capacity of 31 bcm.

The company has completed upgrading five gas compressor stations that will allow them to pump gas from reservoirs in western Ukraine to eastern and southern Ukraine.

The pipeline operator is owned by state-run Naftogaz Group, a vertically-integrated oil and gas company.

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