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Ukraine says gas storage facilities key to Europe's energy security

By Alexander Bor in Kiev

September 18, 2014 - Ukraine's underground natural gas storage facilities have a pivotal role to play in underpinning Europe's energy security, Andriy Kobolev, the head of national energy company Naftogaz Ukrayiny, said September 18.

"Ukrainian underground storage facilities are a strategic resource for strengthening the energy security of Europe," Kobolev said in a statement, adding that the facilities were "a powerful tool for the creation of European gas reserves."

Most similar facilities in Europe are almost full, leaving those in Ukraine the only major ones that can store more gas ahead of possible disruption of gas supplies from Russia.

Kobolev said the size and location of the facilities on the border between Ukraine and the European Union allow them to be used to buy and store gas at low prices during the summer when demand is weak.

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"For Ukraine and for European partners the facilities allow storing gas in the summer, when prices are lowest," Kobolev said.

The facilities, which can hold 32 billion cubic meters of gas and are some of the largest in Europe, are currently 51% filled.

As of September 15, Ukraine had accumulated 16.29 Bcm of natural gas in its underground storage facilities, up 15% from about 14.1 Bcm at the same point last year, Naftogaz said.

Ukraine is currently pumping about 34.9 million cu m of gas/day into the facilities as it faces difficulties in accumulating more gas after Russia, the country's main gas supplier, cut to zero supplies to the country on June 16, citing price and debt payment disagreements.

The country is preparing to survive the upcoming winter without Russian gas supplies by counting on domestic gas production and imports of European gas.

Ukraine on September 2 started massive imports of gas from Slovakia via the Vojany-Uzhgorod pipeline.

The pipeline is delivering up to 27 million cu m of gas/day, which is enough to cover 40% of the country's gas import demand, according to state gas shipper UkrTransGaz.

Ukraine plans to store up to 17.2 Bcm of natural gas in its storage facilities by October 15 to offset increasing demand in the winter and to ensure steady Russian gas supplies to Europe, according to the energy and coal industry ministry.

Next article - EU, Russia, Ukraine gas talks possible mid-September: Oettinger

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