Energy GAS SECURITY 15 November, 2023 7:35 am   
COMMENTS: Dmytro Lyppa

Lyppa: Poland and Ukraine can open a gas gate to the East (INTERVIEW)

Dmytro-Lyppa-OGTSUA-1536×1024 Dmytro Lyppa. Picture by OGTSUA.

“If there is demand, we will be able to offer guaranteed capacity from Poland to Ukraine in the amount of about 8 million cubic meters daily together with the Polish operator from 2030,” says the President of the operator of gas transmission pipelines in Ukraine OGTSU Dmytro Lyppa in an interview with Is Ukraine prepared for the possible interruption of gas transmission from Russia?

Dmytro Lyppa: We are actively looking for alternative directions. One of the most promising, which has already shown its potential this summer, is the Trans-Balkan corridor. In the spring, even before the start of the season of pumping gas into Ukrainian gas storage facilities, few people believed that we would be able to achieve what we have today. In July, when the active pumping began, more than a billion cubic meters of gas were delivered to our country in underground gas storage facilities every month. In total, more than 3 billion cubic meters. This is seven times more than the volume of gas transferred in the same period last year.

In addition, in the period April-September 2023, 40 non-resident companies actively used the short-haul service. Among these customers are the largest European traders. In the current season, the Ukraine’s gas TSO (OGTSU) concluded 25 new contracts for the provision of transport services for non-residents, and their total number exceeded 130 foreign customers. In addition, in the future, the Ukrainian TSO can play an important role in the development of hydrogen and biomethane energy and the transport of green energy raw materials to the EU countries. We are currently working with operators from Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Germany to create a central European hydrogen corridor that will allow the transport of up to 5 million tons of hydrogen per year to the EU.

What was the state of the infrastructure at the time of the invasion?

Ukraine’s TSO is ready to work in the 2023-2024 heating season. We have not stopped and will not stop monitoring the technical condition of gas pipelines and pumping stations. Repair works of gas pipelines, pumping stations and gas distribution stations are already completed at 100 percent. We analyzed the results of the previous heating period, modeled possible crisis situations and took everything into account when preparing for the second winter, which takes place during the war.

In August, the Ukraine’s TSO, together with Ukrtransgaz (operator of gas storage facilities in Ukraine), the Energy Security Project (ESP) of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Energy Community Secretariat, the European Commission Directorate-General, the Ministry of Energy of Ukraine, the Naftogaz Group and the Simone Research Group conducted a stress test of Ukraine’s gas infrastructure. The stress tests confirmed the high reliability of the Ukrainian gas infrastructure in wartime conditions, in particular in terms of gas storage and transportation for Ukrainian and foreign service recipients.

What does the future hold for Ukraine’s gas pipelines once they stop pumping gas from Russia?

Today, an important task for us is, as our colleagues from the European Union say,” rightsizing”, that is, determining the optimal size of the system’s operation. Optimization of the transmission infrastructure, reduction of gas consumption, improvement of operating and maintenance practices are changes that we are already actively implementing, which will bring positive results in the near future.

This year, for the first time in many years, we are completing the modernization of a compressor station. By the first half of 2025, we hope to complete the modernization of one more. We are planning to modernize three stations within five years. This will reduce gas consumption.

We are also implementing the approach adopted in Europe for mobile maintenance of infrastructure: a technical specialist arrives at the facility, performs the necessary work and goes to the next one. In 3-4 years, we should introduce a similar practice throughout the system.

What about the transmission contract after 2024? Do Russians care about it more than you now?

We do not have direct trade relations with Gazprom. “Naftogaz of Ukraine” is currently engaged in the organization of transit. The TSO complies and will comply with all norms of Ukrainian legislation and international obligations of Ukraine under interstate agreements and interconnection agreements. The National Gas Transmission system is ready to transport gas to Europe as a reliable partner in relations with EU companies.

What are the prospects for the development of cooperation with Poland and do we need a new gas pipeline at the border?

The Polish direction is very interesting for us, given the development of LNG infrastructure in Poland and the Baltic Pipe. European countries began preparations for the winter in advance, and have almost completely loaded gas storage facilities. In this regard, the excess gas is already sent for storage to the Ukrainian gas storage facilities. Today, we are witnessing a situation in which the amount of natural gas stored in Ukraine has reached the highest level since the beginning of the full-scale war. And Poland, as a transporter of this raw material to Ukrainian gas storage facilities, is a promising country. For example, from the beginning of the year to November, almost 600 million cubic meters were physically transported from Poland to Ukraine, while in the opposite direction physical transport was not carried out.

Unfortunately, the possibilities of pumping raw materials from Poland to Ukraine and vice versa are still insufficient. At the same time, I would like to say that the available capacities in the period from July to September have been fully booked and used in recent months.

Today, OGTSU and Gaz-System have started consultations on increasing cross-border capacity. Interested participants can submit a proposal for a new (increased) capacity project between the Polish and Ukrainian gas transmission systems and the general terms and conditions until November 30, 2023. In case of customer demand, we will be able to offer guaranteed capacity from Poland to Ukraine in the amount of about 8 million cubic meters daily together with the Polish operator from 2030.

Interview by Wojciech Jakóbik