KIEV, Aug 19 (Reuters) - Ukraine, preparing for a possible cut in Russian gas supplies, has agreed with neighbouring Moldova to modernise their border gas metering stations so it can receive gas from Romania, Ukraine’s gas transport company Ukrtransgaz said on Monday.
More than a third of Russia’s gas exports to the European Union cross Ukraine. In winter Ukraine traditionally uses some of the gas pumped by Russia to European consumers for its own needs and compensates for this by deliveries from Ukrainian gas storage located in the west of the country.
But the Russia-Ukraine gas transit agreement is due to expire in January and Ukrainian energy authorities are worried that Moscow could stop gas supplies through Ukraine.
“The main purpose of the cooperation is to diversify gas supply routes to Ukraine in preparation for the autumn-winter period 2019/2020,” Ukrtransgaz said in a statement.
Ukraine plans to build additional gas pipeline bypasses and complete the reconstruction of its station at Grebenyky near the Moldovan border by the end of 2019.
“It is expected that as of January 1, 2020, a constant capacity will be created for imports from Romania of 1.5 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas per year, regardless of the volume of Russian gas transit through the territory of Ukraine,” Ukrtransgaz said.
Relations between Kiev and Moscow plummeted after Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula in 2014.
Ukraine has to cover about a third of its gas consumption by imports. The country halted its own gas purchases in Russia in 2015 and started buying it on European markets mainly for pumping into storages for the winter.
Ukraine consumed 32.3 bcm of gas in 2018, 10.6 bcm of which was came from Europe via Poland, Slovakia and Hungary.
The potential for problems with the Russian transit agreement prompted Ukraine to increase its winter gas reserves by 18% compared with last year to 20 bcm.
Last week, Ukrtransgaz said it had upgraded several gas pumping stations so it can provide gas to eastern and southern regions of the country if there is a disruption in supply from Russia. (Reporting by Natalia Zinets. Editing by Jane Merriman)