What Happens if Transit of Russian Gas in Ukraine Is Disrupted?

If supplies of Russian gas to Europe through Ukraine are disrupted, then the immediate impact on European consumers won't be as devastating as during the past Russian-Ukrainian gas wars due to two factors: (1) the Nord Stream pipeline is already operational and (2) the heating season is almost over while the past winter was mild in what has allowed European countries to stockpile gas.
Gazprom has a strategy to divert gas, as spelled out by Alexander Medvedev, CEO of Gazprom Export, on 3 March at a Gazprom Investor meeting: 55 bcm could go through Nord Stream, 33 bcm through Yamal Europe and 16 bcm through the Blue Stream pipeline, for a total of 104 bcm of capacity, according to "Oxford Institute for Energy Studies."1
Gazprom's largest West European client Germany has gas inventories that are equivalent to around 60 days of demand.

Gas deliveries from Russia reach Germany via three pipeline networks – Nord Stream, Yamal, and the Ukraine pipeline system. The Nord Stream pipeline (55 bcm)2 and the Yamal pipeline ( 33bcm), which both bypass Ukraine to deliver Russian gas to Germany and other countries, have a joint capacity of 88bcm, whereas Germany imports 40 bcm per year from Russia.3 And the share of Russian gas that goes through Ukraine to Germany has been declining: Transit of Russian gas to Germany via Ukraine declined almost by 50% from 21bcm in 2012 to 11.7 in 2013 as more and more gas was shipped through the Nord Stream offshore pipeline directly from Russia to Germany.4And with the construction of South Stream at its full 63 bcm capacity would be sufficient to divert all Russian exports to Europe away from Ukraine.5
Nor would Ukraine itself be instantly affected by disruption of supplies.

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Ukraine can last without Russian gas until mid-October, according to calculations done by the East European Gas Analysis research company, thanks to the gas reserves it has accumulated, which are larger than usual because of the mildness of the past winter.1 Also, EU countries have put together a contingency plan to ship gas to Ukraine if needed.2

4 Obviously this is not sufficient to remove Ukraine from the equation completely, as, on the assumption that Russian gas sales to Europe in 2014 could be 155 bcm (the most recent Gazprom estimate), this would leave 51 bcm to flow along the Ukrainian gas corridor. However, it is also obvious that the construction of South Stream at its full 63 bcm capacity would be sufficient to divert all Russian exports to Europe away from Ukraine, although not until 2020“What the Ukraine crisis means for gas markets”, Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, March 2014,http://www.oxfordenergy.org/wpcms/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/What-the-Ukraine-crisis-means-for-gas-markets-GPC-3.pdf)


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