Matiyeshyn on Europe, through a Ukrainian eye

With winter season of 2012-2013 coming closer, “Gazprom” has started to show a more rigid position in relation to certain European consumers of Russian gas. Bringing into service of the Nord Stream gas pipeline provided Russia with additional dividends in negotiation processes with transit countries and consumers. And first of all, it has to do with Poland and Ukraine. “Gazprom” isn’t planning to revise contracts on gas supply with these countries.

The last forecasts of “Gazprom” on gas export to Europe were reduced from 154 to 150 billion cubic meters. The head of the company O.Miller declared that if it comes to choose between two figures, the advantage will be given to smaller volumes, but at a higher price. Therefore, there will be no discounts for gas. The conflict of “Gazprom” with the Polish oil and gas company “PGNiG” concerning contract revision and reduction of gas price testifies to this. The last Russian-Polish negotiations ended up with nothing. Representatives of the Polish company declared that they don’t see a possibility of non-judicial settlement of the conflict with “Gazprom”. In 2011 the “PGNiG” submitted a claim to the Stockholm arbitration court, demanding reduction of gas price from “Gazprom”. The latter refuses to reconsider the price formula, although it granted discounts to a number of European companies.

On July 20 the President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso and the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton stated their concern about a possibility of repetition of the gas crisis of 2009. Due to a long-term dispute between Ukraine and Russia concerning the gas price, the risk of its repetition is considerably growing.

The EU has again declared its readiness for negotiations on creation of a three-party gas consortium with Ukraine and Russia. Similar statements arise each time before the beginning of the heating season, or are connected with upcoming electoral campaigns in Ukraine. However this time, in case of repetition of the scenario of 2009, the EU will hardly take the side of Ukraine. There are several reasons for this. The economic component encompasses: gas discounts received by Europeans from “Gazprom”, accumulated stocks in gas storage facilities and the successful policy on increasing LNG-component in the energy security of the EU countries. The situation for Ukraine is also worsened by a difficult internal political situation related to the reasons of boycott of the Euro-2012.

Already now it is possible to predict intensification of the international isolation of Ukraine after the October parliamentary elections. There is no use doubting that they won’t be recognized as transparent and fair by international institutes. Here we can also add inevitable accusations of unauthorized siphoning of the Russian gas by Ukraine and questions of shortage of contract volumes. That is, Ukraine will find oneself between the economic pressure of Russia and the political pressure of the EU. Therefore, during the autumn and winter period the Ukrainian society can already become a hostage to international games in terms of recognition of parliamentary elections valid, or changes of the whole system of power.


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