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Ukraine’s gas transmission system collapses: gas import from Poland halted

Ukraine has halted import of gas from Poland after a leak in the main pipeline, Maxim Belyavsky, spokesperson for Ukrtransgaz Company, told TASS.

“Depressurization of the 800-mm trunk gas pipeline in Lvov region has temporarily halted gas imports from Poland. Repair operations are underway,” he said. Belyavsky could not specify when the repairs are to be completed. “Depressurization occurred at about 6:00am today. It will become known within the day how long the repair operations will last,” he said.

Experts do not think that the entire gas transmission system of Ukraine is in a poor state, but they think the accident is a wake-up call for those who insist that the system is reliable.

“Ukraine’s gas-transmission system was built in 1970-1980s. The service life expiration date of many pipelines is approaching,” says Alexey Grivach, deputy director of the National Energy Security Fund. “The Soyuz pipeline has exhausted its service life, it is not operated now. The other pipelines not just need modernization, but capital reconstruction with replacement of entire pipeline segments.”

Grivach says that Ukraine has been negotiating with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development for a loan to modernize its gas transmission system for already five years. “Modernization of a 100-km segment is in question now. Meanwhile, each export gas pipeline running in the territory of Ukraine is longer 10-fold, and at least EUR600 million not EUR150 million is needed for reconstruction of each pipeline. More than EUR6 billion is necessary in total,” Alexey Grivach says.

Kiev lacks sufficient financial resources even to buy gas, let alone modernization of the gas-transmission system. At different times, various options of gas-transmission consortiums were suggested to raise investments in Ukraine’s gas-transmission system. However, all the options failed because of political discrepancies inside the country. In the meantime, modernization of the gas-transmission system of Ukraine is still a pressing issue. Here are some data of Ukrainian experts.

“More than one-third of the pipelines are 24-50-years-old and almost 45% of the pipelines are not corrosion-resistant due to their improper protection. 80% of the gas-compressor units are worn out and more than 6% of the transmitted gas has been used for the needs of the gas transmission system (the average indicator in the world is 0.5%). That is, yet 15 years ago, it was evident that the pipelines needed modernization,” economist Valery Sherbina wrote on lb.ua.

It is noteworthy that Poland launched not-large volumes of reverse flow gas deliveries to Ukraine on July 16. As of August 7, Poland supplied 4 million cubic meter of gas, according to Ukrtransgaz, while Slovakia supplied 38 million cubic meters of gas. Only Hungary supplied less than Poland - 2.6 million cubic meters of gas. Anyway, every million cubic meter matters for Ukraine now ahead of the heating season.

EADaily reported earlier that in late August, the Government of Ukraine charged Naftogaz of Ukraine to accumulate 17 billion cubic meters of gas at the underground gasholders by November 1. Meantime, the current rates of own recovery and reserve flows from the EU are insufficient for the Ukrainian company to fulfill the Cabinet’s order. Although the Russian gas is less expensive than the one imported from Europe, Naftogaz of Ukraine refuses to buy it without signing an additional agreement.

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