The company Operator GTS of Ukraine reported on transit of Russian gas in the first quarter of 2021. The next anti-record is established but for Ukraine only. In general Gazprom increased export deliveries on 30.7%.

From January till March Gazprom it was directed 10.4 billion cubic meters of gas through Ukraine. Thus the anti-record of last year when for the first quarter it was pumped over only 11.1 billion cubic meters along the same route was beaten.

It is important that the nature of these anti-records is different. So, last year falling of pumping on the Ukrainian direction was caused by problems of the European gas market. A part of them was connected with a surplus of stocks in underground storages (UGS) which are saved up, which is ironic, in a case of failure of the transit agreement of Russia with Ukraine. Plus a contribution made by warm winter. Prior to the beginning of full-scale corona crisis gas price in the European Union managed to fail lower than $100 per one thousand cubic meters. On this background it would be absurd to increase pipeline deliveries.

To 2021 EU has saved up comparable stocks in storages. But the local European surplus of the offer which in 2019-2020 was generated by a specific situation in the world gas markets disappeared. In other words, suppliers of LNG again mainly carried natural gas there where it was given more money for it — to ATR (Japan, China and South Korea). Besides, the winter was cold and rather windless. Because of it rates of gas extraction were record — it was necessary to make heat and to replace the volumes of the «green» electric power which dropped out at will of the weather.
Europe left heating season with not bad emptied UGS. And Gazprom, according to preliminary data, exported 52.7 billion cubic meters in the first quarter – on 12.4 billion more than for the same period of last year. But thus deliveries on the Ukrainian direction fell. It was expected.

Under the present contract as of 2021 Gazprom is obliged to pump through Ukraine over 40 billion cubic meters only (last year — 65 billion). But as the volume is considered not in annual expression and in a daily allowance, it will be, to tell more precisely, that Gazprom is obliged to deliver one million cubic meters per day. That is record-breaking low volumes of transit were about 5% higher than it had been supposed in the contract.

If the Russian side delivers more than it is stipulated by the contract, transit is paid taking into account the raising coefficient (from 1.1 to 1.4 depending on the period of booking of capacities). In this regard it should be noted that pumping through Ukraine in the first quarter was distributed unequally. In the process of exhaustion of the European stocks and growth of demand due to a cold snap the Ukrainian direction started being operated more actively. So, according to Operator GTS of Ukraine, in March Gazprom directed through Ukraine on 27% more gas than in February, — 3.69 billion cubic meters. Thus the Russian side reserved in addition 2.115 billion, having brought total volume of the reserved transit capacities approximately to 12 billion cubic meters.
It is interesting that the bulk of transit was carried out towards Slovakia — about 6 billion cubic meters, 2 billion cubic meters were pumped to Hungary, to Moldova – 1.1 billion, to Poland — 863 million and to Romania — 394 million.

Actually low loading on once extremely important southern direction testifies to quite obvious thing — The Turkish stream works.
Additional falling of pumping to the south through Ukraine was inevitable after partners of Russia started the Balkan continuation of The Turkish stream at the end of last year. Recently Romania also started receiving Russian natural gas through Turkey.

One more factor influencing loading of the Ukrainian pipe is demand on the territory of this country. About Russian 10-12 billion cubic meters which are pumped over on its GTS since 2016 have been turning in a magic way into the gas extracted in Slovakia, Switzerland and other mighty oil and gas powers.

Special legal magic

In 2020 demand for gas from Ukraine was reduced on 2.7 billion cubic meters: equally reduced consumption both at the population and at the industry.
At the beginning of this year the cold winter urged on demand. For example, in February the best result for the last eight years — 3 billion cubic meters was established. But a considerable part of this volume was taken from the Ukrainian UGS.

Falling of Ukrainian economy in general proceeds. Additional pressure upon it is put by inconsistent anti epidemiological policy of the state. Thus the population continues growing poorer, increasing debts for energy resources and refusing gas. Therefore in annual expression import of natural gas from Ukraine can appear at the level of 2020 and even below.

After start of Nord Stream-2 a need for the Ukrainian direction will decrease. But at the same time it can be used as an alternative to pumping through Poland if conditions are favorable. Ukrainian direction can also be demanded after 2024 at least at the current level if demand for gas in the European Union remains, and own production will continue falling. But even in this case it is possible to tell unambiguously: the time of anti-records has come for GTS of Ukraine.