Russian gas flowing through Ukraine can only stop when EU countries stop imports: Naftogaz CEO

A Ukrainian worker operates valves in a gas storage and transit point in Boyarka, just outside Kyiv, Jan. 3, 2006
A Ukrainian worker operates valves in a gas storage and transit point in Boyarka, just outside Kyiv, Jan. 3, 2006 Copyright AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov
By Efi Koutsokosta
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Ukraine hopes to be able to boost domestic production of gas to completely severe the EU's dependence on Russian imports.

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Despite the war, Russian gas is still running through Ukraine.

That's a paradox that will only stop once the EU totally cuts its dependence on Russian energy, according to the chief executive of Ukraine’s state energy company Naftogaz, who spoke with Euronews on Monday during a visit to Brussels.

The European Union has drastically reduced its gas imports from Russia, but some member states from Central and Western Europe still get it through Ukrainian pipelines.

Asked about this, Oleksiy Chernishov, CEO of Naftogaz said that "overall we should limit any additional income for Russia during the course of the war, but from another hand, we should understand that some European countries cannot immediately refuse using this gas." 

"We welcome the initiative of the European Union to constantly reduce the consumption of Russian gas", he said, adding that Ukraine cannot stop the remaining flows as "the customer is European Union countries".

Ukraine also wants to stop importing gas, and become not only self-sufficient but also a net exporter and energy hub for the rest of Europe, Chernishov said.

"It is quite hard to do it during the times of war. There are certain limitations and moreover, there are certain risks that we should consider, especially in the damaging of infrastructure" Chernyshov said.

"We are planning to produce more gas domestically and Naftogaz itself as the biggest energy company in Ukraine, will produce an additional 1 billion cubic meters of gas. And that might lead to the situation when Ukraine can satisfy its own needs with internal gas production. That is our main goal" he added.

Asked if he believes this is a realistic scenario for next winter given the fact that the war is still ongoing he was quite clear: "We have no other way. We should produce more, we should consume less, we should be more energy efficient. And we are approaching to it." 

"Ukraine in the regard of its energy, can become an energy hub for the European Union. We do have the biggest storages of gas in our country, which have 31 billion cubic meters of capacity, and we plan to use it for Ukrainian needs as well as for European countries".

The Ukrainian gas chief is also pushing Brussels to make use of Ukraine’s underground gas storage facilities and provide further security guarantees to ensure the company can continue to secure crucial investments and the necessary insurance.

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