The U.S. Department of Energy is sending a delegation to Ukraine to help the country address a possible energy shortage this winter as Russia seeks to end gas transit.
The U.S. energy specialists will work with Ukrainian counterparts to study the country's energy generation, transmission, and distribution and develop a "winter action plan," the Department of Energy said in a statement on September 6.
The announcement follows a meeting between U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry and members of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's administration on August 31 in Warsaw to discuss energy security. The delegation was requested by the Ukrainians, the statement said.
Russia is seeking to launch two new pipelines next year to carry gas to Europe via Germany and Turkey. The pipelines would eliminate Russia's need to ship gas through Ukraine to meet European needs, potentially leaving the country short of energy in the winter.
"This team will help ensure that the Zelenskiy administration and government of Ukraine is best equipped to ensure Ukraine is never again vulnerable to threats of supply disruption from Russia," the statement said.
Natural gas accounts for about a quarter of Ukraine's annual energy consumption, according to a 2018 report by PwC. Coal and nuclear account for more than half.
Perry was accompanied on his trip to Warsaw with executives from U.S. companies involved in the nuclear, coal, and gas industries.
Russia cut off gas to Ukraine in the winters of 2006 and 2009 amid price disputes.
Russia for years had sold gas to Ukraine at discounted prices to ensure loyalty to the Kremlin, but that changed as Kyiv pursued a policy of closer relations with the west.
Ukraine imports about one-third of its gas needs. The country has struggled to increase its own domestic gas production though it sits atop large reserves. Ukraine is not expected to produce enough gas to meet its own needs until the end of the next decade.