Ukraine starts gas shipments to Europe

Nov. 9, 2012 at 10:15 AM

KIEV, Ukraine, Nov. 9 (UPI) -- Ukraine's state-owned natural gas company secured a deal with Germany's RWE that could weaken Gazprom's grip on the regional energy sector, an executive said.

German energy company RWE is working with Ukraine to get gas through Poland in an effort to break the Russian grip on the regional energy sector. Pavel Afanasiev, a gas director at Ukrainian state-owned energy company Naftogaz, told Argus Media that this is a test run that would last for about two months.

"The gas will be delivered to Ukraine through Poland, by reversing one of the few lines that connect the two countries' transmission systems," he was quoted as saying.

Both sides, Afanasiev said, would examine a more comprehensive relationship once the initial phase concludes. RWE, he said, could eventually sell Ukraine as much as 176 billion cubic feet of natural gas.

Gas disputes between Russian energy company Gazprom and Ukraine, most recently in 2009, caused problems for European consumers when supplies were disrupted briefly. Most of the Russian gas headed for Europe runs through a Soviet-era gas transit system in Ukraine.

Europe is seeking to break the Russian grip on the energy sector by courting energy-rich countries in the Caspian region. Moscow, for its part, has expanded its gas export options through the Nord Stream pipeline and the planned South Stream project.

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