The transit of Russian gas through Ukraine is stopping Russia from becoming a full-blown aggression, believes Yuriy Vitrenko, the head of the Ukrainian Naftogaz concern. Kiev wants the US to consider this project as a security threat.
– In our opinion, Nord Stream 2 is not an economic project – emphasizes Witrenko in a comment sent to PAP. – The Ukrainian gas transport system is reliable and can offer the best competitive gas transit conditions. But (Russian President Vladimir) Putin deliberately wants Russian gas to flow outside Ukraine to create problems for us. This is contrary to European law and that is why we did our best to apply it to NS2, continues the head of the state-owned oil company.
Gas in Ukraine – the issue of Nord Stream 2
He adds that Ukraine is interested in maintaining Russian gas transit through its territory for two reasons. First, “the physical flow of gas through Ukraine to European consumers is preventing Putin from triggering full-scale aggression against Ukraine.” Second, it is about the economic factor: Ukraine currently receives $ 1.5-2 billion. for transit services each year.
– If NS2 is launched, in violation of the European law on operator certification, and it operates as the Kremlin wants it, i.e. depriving Ukraine of transit, it will have consequences for our gas transport system – he points out and emphasizes that according to the operator’s data the lack of transit system may lead to serious difficulties in its functioning.
Witrenko believes that the physical completion of the gas pipeline does not mean the beginning of its operation – for this purpose, the operator must be certified in accordance with the requirements of the Third Energy Package. If the operator is not certified in accordance with the EU rules, we will demand sanctions, including sanctions from the US, which may also stop its operation, announces the head of Naftogaz.
Ukrainian delegation to the USA
If the operation of NS2 is commenced in accordance with all EU standards and rules, the transit of Russian gas through Ukraine will be different, even under the current agreements with Gazprom, adds Vitrenko. According to the principle of energy solidarity, European companies will have access not only to NS2, but also to the Ukrainian transport system; then they will buy gas on the Ukraine-Russia border and will pay Ukraine themselves for its transit and storage, believes Vitrenko, who, according to the media, went with President Volodymyr Zelensky to the US. Zelenskiy is to meet US President Joe Biden at the White House on Wednesday.
– Our expectations for this visit are really high, many important issues will be discussed, including those related to security – emphasizes the head of Naftogaz.
In talks with American partners, Ukraine will continue to emphasize that NS2 is a matter of national security. – Because if there is no physical gas transit through Ukraine, it increases the chances of Russia’s full-scale aggression against Ukraine. And it is certainly not in the interests of Ukraine, the EU or the USA. That is why we want the US to consider NS2 as a threat to the security of Ukraine and the world, concludes Witrenko.
When it comes to economic issues, we emphasize that Ukraine is not asking for any compensation, he continues. – If Germany and the US indicated in their joint statement that NS2 should comply with European rules and law, it means that third parties are to have guaranteed access to NS2 and to other gas pipelines connecting Russia and Europe, including the Ukrainian transport system. So Russia is to change its approach to gas supplies to Europe and stop using gas as a geopolitical weapon and treat it as a commercial product – he emphasizes.
The head of Nathohaz believes that the US authorities should apply sanctions primarily to the NS2 operator – Nord Stream 2 AG, which – as he adds – 100 percent. subject to Gazprom.
Nord Stream 2 under European jurisdiction
The head of Naftogaz also referred to the decision of the Higher National Court in Duesseldorf against the complaint of the owner of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. According to Witrenka, “a very important achievement” is the very fact that the European court ruled that it was necessary to apply EU law to NS2, because ” the gas pipeline did not fall under the EU’s energy jurisdiction and we made every effort to convince European politicians of this necessity. “
He estimates that Russia has tried to lead NS2 out of European regulations, and the court in Duesseldorf has in fact obliged Gazprom to comply with the rules of the third energy package. – And here the key requirement is that the company that extracts and sells gas cannot control its flows at the same time. In fact, it is a restriction of monopoly, uncompetitive activities and the use of gas as a geopolitical weapon. Gazprom is to execute this court decision, otherwise the NS2 operator cannot be certified, and therefore the gas pipeline (…) will not be able to function – he adds.
He also points out that the July decision of the CJEU on the OPAL gas pipeline – the inland branch of Nord Stream 1 – “actually confirmed the principle of solidarity to be applied by the German regulator. It is also important.”
Witrenko sees “significant prospects” for the development of green energy in Ukraine and recalls the recently signed memorandum between Naftogaz and the German RWE. Ukraine and its German partners are planning to “implement joint projects in the field of production and storage of green hydrogen and ammonia in Ukraine and their import to Germany along with their further sale on European markets with which RWE currently cooperates”.
– At the same time, it should be noted that the hydrogen economy requires significant investments, both financial and time. It is about tens of billions of dollars and 10-15 years for it to become a reality – says Witrenko.
– And it is precisely the profits from the transit of Russian gas that would be used to finance this green transformation, otherwise it will not happen. But in 10, 15 years and the next 50, 100 years, green hydrogen can and should be flowing between Ukraine and Europe – and the Ukrainian transport system can be used for this purpose, concludes Yuri Vitrenko.
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