Ukraine and Slovakia are to sign an agreement later Monday allowing 8 billion cubic meters/year of reverse gas flow starting this fall, if technically feasible, the European Commission said Monday.
The agreed memorandum of understanding foresees modernizing the "existing and unused Vojany pipeline at Velke Kapusany on the Slovakian side," the EC said.
This means that 22 million cubic meters/day of gas, or about 8 Bcm/year, can flow from Slovakia to Ukraine via the Vojany pipeline as from fall 2014, the EC said.
Slovakian gas grid operator Eustream is to check some technical details and confirm if this solution is feasible "within a few weeks," the EC said.
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If it proves not to be feasible, "the alternative would be to start with a smaller volume and scale the pipeline up to 22 million cubic meters a day until April 2015," the EC said.
Eustream and Ukrainian gas grid operator Ukrtransgaz are to sign a framework interconnection agreement Monday setting out the technical details of using the Vojany pipeline.
Ukraine can already import gas from the EU via Hungary and Poland, and last year imported about 2 Bcm this way, the EC said.
The MoU on reverse flows using the Vojany pipeline is only the first step, EC energy spokeswoman Sabine Berger told reporters in Brussels Monday.
"Further options will be legally and technically assessed in due course," she said.
Vojany is a 10 Bcm/year back-up pipeline to the main four parallel cross- border transit pipelines that together are capable of bringing about 81 Bcm/year into Europe.
The Voljany line is simpler to reverse than the main transit pipelines as it only involves Eustream and Ukrtransgaz.
The main transit route, however, involves Gazprom as the grid operator between the Ukrainian and the Slovak systems. A legal analysis has suggested that means Gazprom would have to agree to any reverse flows on those pipelines, an Eustream spokesman told Platts Friday.
The two countries' TSOs and their respective ministries as well as Russia and the EC are in talks to resolve this, the Eustream spokesman said.
--Siobhan Hall, firstname.lastname@example.org
--Edited by Jeremy Lovell, email@example.com