The closed transit point Ukraine usually processes about 8 percent of Russian gas flows to Europe.
Russian gas flow to Europe via Ukraine fell by a quarter after Kiev stopped using a major transit route and was blamed for interference by occupying Russian forces, the first time exports through Ukraine have been disrupted since the invasion.
Ukraine is still a major transit route for Russian gas to Europe, even after Moscow launched a so-called “special military operation” on Feb. 24.
The transit point that Ukraine has closed usually handles about 8 percent of Russian gas flows to Europe, although European states said they were still receiving supplies. The Ukraine corridor mainly sends gas to Austria, Italy, Slovakia and other Eastern European states.
Kremlin-controlled Gazprom, which has a monopoly on Russian pipeline gas exports, said it still ships gas to Europe via Ukraine, but volumes were seen Wednesday at 72 million cubic meters (mcm), down from 95, 8 mcm on Tuesday.
GTSOU, which manages Ukraine’s gas system, said on Tuesday it would suspend flows through the Sokhranovka transit point, which it said supplied nearly a third of the fuel routed from Russia to Europe via Ukraine.
GTSOU said it declared “force majeure”, invoked when a company is hit by something beyond its control, and suggested it divert supplies for Europe to another route, the Sudzha entry point, the larger of Ukraine’s two border crossings.
GTSOU chief executive Sergiy Makogon said Russian occupation forces have begun taking gas and sending it to Russian-backed separatist regions in eastern Ukraine. He cited no evidence.
The gas pipeline from the Sokhranovka point runs through Ukraine’s Luhansk region, part of which is under the control of pro-Russian separatists. Sudzha is further to the northwest.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia remains committed to gas supply deals when asked to comment on the dispute with Ukraine over the transit route. He said gas supplier Gazprom had not been notified of Ukraine’s move in advance.
Russia’s Gazprom said gas security has been undermined by Ukraine’s closure of one access point for the transit of Russian gas to Europe.
Last month, Bulgaria and Poland refused to pay for Russian gas through a new payment mechanism and had to cut supplies. With the Sokhranovka point now closed, up to a third of Europe’s gas supply could be disrupted, analysts say.
Wednesday’s disruption pushed the European benchmark gas price for the third quarter to 100 euros per megawatt hour in the open market before falling back. The price is more than 250 percent above the level of a year ago.
Gazprom said on Tuesday that it was not technically possible to move all the volumes to the Sudzha route, as GTSOU had suggested.
GTSOU said volumes were diverted to Sudzha in October 2020 when repairs were being made on the Sokhranovka route. At the time, Sudzha said it was processing 165.1 mcm per day — far more than Tuesday’s total 95.8 mcm flow through Ukraine.
“Therefore, claims that it is impossible to carry out the transfer of flows from Sokhranovka to Sudzha point are not true,” GTSOU said in a statement on Facebook.