Brussels — Russia's Gazprom and Ukraine's Naftogaz are to join high-level talks with their countries' ministers on post-2020 natural gas transit to the EU on Monday in Brussels, the European Commission said Friday.
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"We need a strong commitment by the two sides to advance in the talks, given the existing transit contract [between them] expires at the end of this year," EC vice-president for energy union, Maros Sefcovic, said.
Russia sent about 87 Bcm of natural gas via Ukraine to Europe in 2018, but those volumes are set to plummet once its planned 55 Bcm/year Nord Stream 2 pipeline to Germany and 31.5 Bcm/year TurkStream pipeline to Turkey come online.
Both projects are on track to be flowing first gas by the end of this year.
Gazprom deputy chairman Alexander Medvedev and Naftogaz CEO Andriy Kobolyev are to join Russian energy minister Alexander Novak, Ukrainian foreign minister Pavlo Klimkin and Sefcovic for a second round of political talks on future transit terms.
The last round was in July when the three parties agreed to work at expert level to discuss the EU's long-term gas demand, how Ukraine aligning its energy market laws with the EU would impact any future transit contract with Russia, and transit tariffs.
Sefcovic is to meet Monday with the Russian and Ukrainian delegations separately first, followed by a trilateral meeting, the EC said.
Ukraine used to transit around 110 Bcm, or 80%, of Russia's gas exports to the EU.
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That fell to around 62 Bcm after 2011, owing to lower European gas demand and Russia bringing online its first 55 Bcm/year Nord Stream gas pipeline direct to Germany across the Baltic Sea.
Russian transit volumes via Ukraine grew again as European gas demand recovered, reaching some 94 Bcm in 2017.
Russia has said it will likely still use the Ukrainian route for small volumes, around 10-15 Bcm/year, after 2020 if transit tariffs were competitive.
It has also said it may use the Ukrainian route in future to transit extra gas during peak demand periods.
The EC is keen to support Ukraine in keeping the route open by encouraging viable long-term Russian gas transit through it.
It has previously helped Russia and Ukraine negotiate gas supply deals with each other to ensure their ongoing legal disputes did not disrupt transit to the EU, but it has not been involved before in agreeing transit terms.
--Siobhan Hall, firstname.lastname@example.org
--Edited by Daniel Lalor, email@example.com