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EU ministers back Ukraine grid synchronization, support reverse gas flows


Near-term synchronization excludes trading

Implementation in several weeks, not days

Intense gas planning ahead of next winter

  • Author
  • Andreas Franke
  • Editor
  • Henry Edwardes-Evans
  • Commodity
  • Electric Power LNG Natural Gas Oil

EU ministers broadly support an emergency request by Ukraine to synchronize its high voltage power grid with the Entso-e European network, EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson said Feb. 28.

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The task was "technically challenging but doable," Simson said after an EU energy council emergency meeting in Brussels.

"This is not a political decision, technical steps must be taken," Simson said, noting European grid association Entso-e would map out the necessary preconditions for such a step.

"Under normal circumstances this would have happened next year, now we need to step up our action," Simson said.

She expected synchronization within "several weeks" rather than days.

This would exclude cross-border trading arrangements and would be purely to support Ukraine's efforts to maintain a stable power system.

Gas planning

In the gas market Simson said several Member States had committed to fill their gas stores as a pre-condition of extending reverse flows of gas from Hungary to Ukraine next winter.

"The physical reverse flow capacity between Slovakia and Ukraine has been increased and discussions are ongoing to extend this to the next heating seasons," she said.

The weather had favored Europe and gas stores were still 30% full but projections showed this dropping to 18% by April, Simson warned.

"Risks remain and we cannot exclude Russia will take retaliatory steps. A full disruption would be a challenge but we have tools in place to handle the implications," she said.

LNG imports of around 10 Bcm per month in January and February were the highest levels seen in the EU, she said.

Increasing this, however, required EU-level coordination.

"To make this happen, I have announced that the Commission will set up a platform and contact groups with relevant Member States and LNG operators," Simson said.

In December last year the EC proposed targeted measures to integrate storage into regional and national risk assessments and enable joint procurement of strategic gas stocks, the Commissioner said.

"I have asked the ministers to speed up the adoption of these proposals," she said.

Meanwhile Poland, Lithuania, Czechia and others had pledged to make deliveries of diesel, jet fuel and generators to meet Ukraine's immediate needs.

"At same time we will be undertaking close monitoring of nuclear safety in Ukraine," Simson said.