Recently it is often heard criticism of Gazprom for construction of new export gas pipelines. After all the gas pipelines going across the territory of Ukraine are loaded not for 100%. Why should it spend money and builds new capacities when it is possible to use the existing ones? Let’s try to understand this situation.

First of all, it is necessary to understand that recently the volume of export of Russian gas promptly grows. In 2014 this indicator made 146.6 billion cubic meters, in 2015 – 158.6; in 2016 – 179.3 and following the results of 2017 193.9 billion cubic meters of export deliveries. It takes several years to build a new gas pipeline. Therefore it is necessary to prepare for growth of future deliveries in advance.

New is better than old

Transit capacities in the territory of Ukraine were created from the middle of the 1960s to the middle of the 1980s. The design term of operation of the pipes laid then makes 33 years. Therefore, even the «newest» sites of the Ukrainian gas transmission system exceed the limit of the design term of operation and they need to be changed. More difficult is the situation with gas-distributing units the majority of which became outdated and work at the limit of the resources. The Ukrainian gas transmission system needs large-scale modernization. However Ukraine has no money for it. For example, experts of Mott MacDonald (the international consulting company with headquarters in Great Britain) counted that Ukraine needs to invest in «pipe» 4.8 billion dollars in 7 years (about 686 million dollars a year). It is really invested in 5-7 times less. During several years the Ukrainian authorities try to attract foreign investors but still unsuccessfully. Investors can be understood. After all there are no long-term guarantees of loading of transit Ukrainian gas pipelines. The existing contract for transit of the Russian gas comes to an end at the end of 2019.

Gazprom constantly offered Ukraine help in modernization of gas transmission system. However the Ukrainian authorities refused such offers proudly, including the gas transmission system based on independence. As a result the Ukrainian gas transmission system gradually fell into decay. It can function thanks to that is loaded not for 100%. The most emergency sites can be disconnected that is done with success.

They say a lot now that the Nord Stream gas pipeline is very important for bypassing Ukraine. I will remind that Gazprom started studying this project in the late nineties when Ukraine was the country friendly for us and no political conflicts existed. Simply this route is shorter for gas transmission from the Yamal Peninsula to Europe. Extent of the central gas corridor which comes to Ukraine makes about 6 thousand km, and northern — 4 thousand km. Besides, the northern gas corridor is constructed on the basis of the most advanced technologies. On Bovanenkovo-Ukhta gas pipeline pressure in pipes is 120 atmospheres and further — 90 atmospheres. In the central corridor in the Russian territory pressure is 75 atmospheres and many sites work at 55 atmospheres in Ukraine. The less is pressure in a pipe, the more gas is burned for ensuring its transportation. An average distance between compressor stations makes in the north 240 km and in the central corridor 120 km. The efficiency of gas-distributing units in the northern corridor is twice higher. Here the 32 and 25 MW gas-distributing units work. As a result compressor stations occupy much smaller space, thus, transportation of gas along the northern corridor costs much cheaper than on the central. Thanks to implementation of the Yamal project, construction of the northern gas corridor and the Nord Stream gas pipeline the Russian enterprises could launch production of the latest samples of the equipment. It gave enormous effect for development of the country.

There is a question: why at the time of the USSR it was decided to build more extended export route? The matter is that together with construction of transit export capacities there was a large-scale gasification of the most industrially developed regions of the country, including Ukraine. Today Gazprom faces a problem of modernization of the operating gas transmission system. Naturally, it is better to modernize only those capacities which are necessary for providing domestic market with gas and to construct a new shorter route for export. Gasification of the northern regions of the country is carried out in parallel.
It is not a secret that the tariff for pumping of gas on Nord Stream is significantly lower than across the territory of Ukraine. Thus, the Ukrainian authorities constantly declare a desire to increase even more the tariff for transit of the Russian gas. It is not necessary to be surprised that Gazprom seeks to minimize transit volume through this country.

Unsuccessful attempt

Only once the authorities of Ukraine decided to take reciprocating steps to Russia in the question of modernization of own gas transmission system. In 2004 Naftogaz of Ukraine and Gazprom created International Consortium for Managing and Developing Ukraine’s Gas Transmission System on a parity basis. At the end of August, 2004 Russian and Ukrainian Prime Ministers Mikhail Fradkov and Victor Yanukovych signed The Agreement about measures for ensuring strategic cooperation in gas industry. It was said in the document that the International consortium will construct the new gas pipeline Bogorodchana — Uzhgorod about 300 km long. It will allow expanding a bottleneck of the Ukrainian gas transmission system and to increase export of the Russian gas to Europe. And not the NAK Naftogaz of Ukraine, but the Russian-Ukrainian consortium will become the owner of a new site.

The agreement stipulated that Gazprom guarantees allocation of additional volumes of natural gas for transportation through this pipeline. That is in excess of the parameters established by former intergovernmental agreements: in 2005 — 5 billion cubic meters of gas and in 2010 — 19 billion cubic meters. It was supposed that if Naftogaz of Ukraine will not be able to maintain rather worn-out system of gas pipelines of the country, sooner or later it also should be transferred to the order of consortium to which should join a large European gas company.
In the fall of 2004 election of the president of Ukraine took place, on which Victor Yanukovych won. However supporters of his opponent Viktor Yushchenko declared the results of elections forged and arranged mass protests. The USA and the EU actively supported Viktor Yushchenko. As a result of «orange revolution» new elections were held, which were won by Viktor Yushchenko. He started following defiantly anti-Russian policy and broke off the agreement on creation of International Consortium for Managing and Developing Ukraine’s Gas Transmission System. The Ukrainian gas transmission system continued falling into decay. Gazprom began to increase the volume of pumping of gas along the routes making a detour of Ukraine. At the same time Gazprom raised gas price for Ukraine to Central European indicators.

Now Ukraine does not buy the Russian Gazprom’s gas at all, preferring to buy it in Europe at higher prices. All above mentioned is known to any expert in the gas sphere. There is a question: why so many politicians and experts are agitated for preservation of the Ukrainian route of transit of the Russian gas? Thus the largest European companies together with Gazprom realized the Nord Stream project and now participate in financing of construction of Nord Stream — 2. Why not to invest in modernization of the Ukrainian gas transmission system? It is obvious that the greatest benefit from the anti-Russian policy of Ukraine is received by the USA. This country does not buy Russian gas but it would be favorable to it that there were a state between Russia and the EU which authorities would be guided by the American policy. By means of the authorities of Ukraine, Americans can put pressure both on the EU and Russia. But if Ukraine stops being the large transit country of Russian gas, interest in it will decrease at once. And Russia will strengthen partnership with buyers of gas as there will be no hostile layer between us.