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    Slovakia 'Could Offer More for Longer': Ukraine TSO


Ukraine's gas transmission system operator finds Eustream in Slovakia is dragging its feet relative to other countries bordering Ukraine.

by: William Powell

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Slovakia 'Could Offer More for Longer': Ukraine TSO

Ukraine's major pipeline operator Gas TSO of Ukraine (GTSOU) said July 2 that its Slovak neighbour Eustream could offer even more capacity at the biggest entry point, Velke Kapusany, and for a longer period than it has proposed.

It also said Eustream could also follow European regulations to ease traders' concerns about gas flows, as was the case already with transmission system operators (TSOs) in its other neighbours: Poland, Hungary, Romania, and Moldova.

After accusing GTSOU of acting unacceptably in closing down a minor pipeline at Budince, Eustream offered to increase interruptible capacity in another line at Velke Kapusany to 60mn m³/d until October 1, which GTSOU welcomed. "It will guarantee that all interested companies will be able to timely deliver the planned volumes of gas from Slovakia to Ukraine for storage in Ukrainian underground facilities in August-September," it said.

The capacity can only be interruptible since the quantity notionally flowing east has to be subtracted from physical flows westwards through Ukraine: the major pipelines were built only to carry gas from the Soviet Union to Europe. However Gazprom is expected to keep pumping gas through the summer using the GTSOU system, meaning there will be this option.

GTSOU said in its July 2 statement that Eustream could actually safely offer up to 110mn m³/day and not only until the start of the next gas year, saying this would allow "traders to plan their transactions in the longer term at better costs."

GTSOU says that as a responsible operator it has to close down the smaller pipeline, which crosses the border at Budince, for maintenance which will take seven weeks. That line was built in 2014 as a "quick and dirty" solution in the event of flows from Russia ceasing. The Crimea and eastern Ukraine crises  triggered fears of another gas war against Kiev.

GTSOU said: "It should be noted, that currently, the level of utilisation of Uzhgorod/Velke Kapusany does not exceed 40%. It will continue to decrease, allowing the TSOs in Slovakia and Ukraine to develop options for the use of two of the four large-diameter pipes for uninterrupted and firm import to Ukraine, instead of the temporary solution of Budince."

Slovakia 'should apply EU rules'

GTSOU said too that Eustream might want to follow European Union regulations: "Since 2014, the European Commission, together with the Energy Community Secretariat, has been actively advocating the introduction of common rules for work at interconnection points to create a single pan-European energy market. Janez Kopac, the president of the Energy Community, has repeatedly emphasised this: “The EU and Energy Community markets must operate as one regulatory space for the benefit of system security, security of supply, market functioning and above all energy consumers.

"European codes have already been implemented on Ukraine’s borders with Poland, Hungary, Romania, and Moldova. Now there is a unique opportunity to use this approach on the Slovakia-Ukraine border as well. It is in the interests of both Ukraine and the EU," GTSOU said.

GTSOU said that if the Slovak regulator Urso did not support the idea of introducing EU network code and creating a single virtual point, then another solution could be applied to minimise the losses of traders. GTSOU said it had approval from its own regulator for the special transfer of previously booked capacity from Budince to Velke Kapusany.