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16% of Natural Gas Consumed in Europe Flows Through Ukraine

16% of Natural Gas Consumed in Europe Flows Through Ukraine thumbnail

map of major Russia-Europe natural gas transit lines, as explained in the article text

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, IHS EDIN, and International Energy Agency
Note: Representations of international boundaries and names are not authoritative.

Europe, including all EU members plus Turkey, Norway, Switzerland, and the non-EU Balkan states, consumed 18.7 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of natural gas in 2013. Russia supplied 30% (5.7 Tcf) of this volume, with a significant amount flowing through Ukraine. EIA estimates that 16% (3.0 Tcf) of the total natural gas consumed in Europe passed through Ukraine’s pipeline network, based on data reported by Gazprom and Eastern Bloc Energy.

Two major pipeline systems carry Russian gas through Ukraine to Western Europe—the Bratstvo (Brotherhood) and Soyuz (Union) pipelines. The Bratstvo pipeline is Russia’s largest pipeline to Europe. It crosses from Ukraine to Slovakia and splits in two to supply northern and southern European countries. The Soyuz pipeline links Russian pipelines to natural gas networks in Central Asia and supplies additional volumes to central and northern Europe. A third major pipeline through Ukraine (Trans-Balkan) delivers Russian natural gas to the Balkan countries and Turkey.

In the past, as much as 80% of Russian natural gas exports to Europe transited Ukraine. This number has fallen to 50%-60% since the Nord Stream pipeline, a direct link between Russia and Germany under the Baltic Sea, came online in 2011.

Natural gas flows through Ukraine vary by season, ranging from almost 12 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of natural gas per day in the winter to only 6 Bcf per day in the summer. An unusually mild winter in 2013 meant reduced natural gas flows through Ukraine and contributed to higher levels of natural gas storage in Europe (natural gas storage levels were 46% full as of March 13, compared to 23% full in the United States).

graph of Russian natural gas exports to Europe through Ukraine, as explained in the article text

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, International Energy Agency, and Eastern Bloc Energy

For more information, see EIA’s country analysis note on Ukraine.

Principal contributor: Alexander Metelitsa

11 Comments on "16% of Natural Gas Consumed in Europe Flows Through Ukraine"

  1. Arthur on Sat, 15th Mar 2014 7:16 pm 

    I hope that a civil war in the Ukraine can be avoided, but if it does happen, than these 16% are almost certainly going to be eliminated, which could result in a welcome shock, urging Europeans to become even more serious about the energy problem cluster than they are now.

  2. Keith on Sat, 15th Mar 2014 11:40 pm 

    Is it 16% of the 30% exported by Russia? That would mean 54% of the Russian gas sent to Europe from Russia. That is a strangle hold on Gazprom

  3. Arthur on Sat, 15th Mar 2014 11:44 pm 

    No, probably means 16% Ukraine, 14% Vyborg-Greifswald (Northstream)


  4. Makati1 on Sun, 16th Mar 2014 2:47 am 

    What is more important to Russia/Putin:

    1. Sales of Natural gas to Europe?

    2. The only warm water port for the Russian Navy?

    3. The Russian speaking people in the Crimea and eastern Ukraine?

    4. The need for Russia to prevent further encroachment of NATO/US to Russia’s borders?

    It seems to me that Russia has four very good reasons to not back down. I see an armed invasion from Russia if the West tries to prevent them from separating. Where that ends is anyone’s guess at this point.

  5. dissident on Sun, 16th Mar 2014 3:31 am 

    Nice to see the truth in the above graphic about the 2009 gas cutoff. At the time the western media was singing the same chorus tune that it was Russia that cut off the flow. No, it was Yuschenko. Gazprom had hired an independent Swiss company to monitor the flow which affirmed this fact.

    South Stream is supposed to divert this 16% around Ukraine and break its blackmail hold on Russian gas exports to the EU. But the EU is already making noises that it will try to block South Stream. Clearly the idiots in Brussels think they don’t need this gas. But for some reason they keep on buying it.

  6. rockman on Sun, 16th Mar 2014 1:23 pm 

    EU NG from Russia: 5.7 tcf (30% of EU consumption.

    EU NG passing thru Ukraine: 3 tcf(16% of EU consumption.

    EU NG from Russia not going thru Ukraine: 2.7 tcf

    EU NG not coming from Russia: 13 tcf

    And now here are a few dots to connect: The South Stream project is seen as a rival to the projected Nabucco pipeline. There are doubts about the feasibility of South Stream project, since it may cost twice as much as Nabucco, which was initially expected to cost €12–15billion. Some experts claim that the South Stream pipeline is a political project to counter Nabucco and to expand Russian presence in the region.

    Russian President (then First Deputy Prime Minister) Dmitry Medvedev and former Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány have stated that there is no contradiction between South Stream and the Nabucco pipeline project, designated to bring Caspian (Azerbaijani) gas to Southern and Central Europe via Turkey. “South Stream will have no negative impact on Nabucco, just as Nabucco will have no negative effect on South Stream,” Dmitry Medvedev said during his visit to Hungary on 25 February 2008.

    On 10 March 2010, CEO of Eni Paolo Scaroni proposed to merge Nabucco and South Stream projects to “reduce investments, operational costs and increase overall returns”. This proposal was rejected by energy minister of Russia Sergei Shmatko saying that “South Stream is more competitive than Nabucco” and that “Nabucco and South Stream are far from being competitors”. Also OMV, a partner in the Nabucco project, has said that there are no ongoing discussions about merging the projects.

    Conflict with Ukraine: South Stream has been seen as diverting some gas exported through Ukraine, instead of providing a new source of gas for Europe. At the same time, a bigger part of the offshore route of South Stream was expected to be laid through the continental shelf of Ukraine. Although Ukraine had limited opportunities to ban the project, the laying pipeline on the continental shelf of Ukraine would require a large-scale environmental impact assessment study and environmental permits from Ukrainian authorities. There were speculations that Ukraine would permit the construction of South Stream in exchange for Russian permit to build the White Stream offshore gas pipeline from Georgia to Ukraine. To avoid Ukrainian exclusive economic zone, the pipeline was re-routed through the Turkish waters.[15] In early November 2009, while meeting with Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, accused Ukraine of repeated diversion of gas bound for Europe without paying for it. “I am very much counting on our main transit partner, Ukraine, to fulfill all its contractual obligations”, he said and reiterated his support for South Stream.

    Now one more very big dot to connect: the Crimean gov’t has taken possession of the offshore NG fields on the Ukrainian shelf where South Stream is planned to pass. But will it still be the Ukrainian shelf if the Crimea breaks away? And with South Stream built will any of the big offshore CRIMEAN NG reserves make it into the Ukraine?

    It would seem Russia has a lot more motivation then protecting Russian language speakers in the Crimea.

  7. Kenz300 on Sun, 16th Mar 2014 1:30 pm 

    Local energy production with local jobs provides more economic security and more energy security.

    Wind, solar, wave energy, geothermal and second generation biofuels made from algae, cellulose and waste can provide more locally produced energy and less reliance on Russia.

    Landfills can now be converted to produce energy, biofuels and recycled raw materials for new products. If Europe was serious about energy independence they would make this a priority. There are a lot of landfills just sitting there waiting to produce energy.

  8. Arthur on Sun, 16th Mar 2014 5:14 pm 

    It would seem Russia has a lot more motivation then protecting Russian language speakers in the Crimea.

    Russia has more than enough territory, that’s not the issue. The single most important motivation is Sevastopol, the only warm water port Russia has. Russia would not have made it’s move if there had not been a regime change/violent overthrow of a legitimately democratically elected government by Washington paid nationalist hotheads from Lvov.

  9. rockman on Sun, 16th Mar 2014 7:06 pm 

    Actually the Russians had their warm water port without doing anything. They are there because the Ukraine gov’t leased the rights to them and was negotiating a new 50 year lease. So not only did the Russians have an internationally recognized right to occupy Sevastopol but the equally powerful right of possession. IOW regardless of what happened Russia was never going to lose the port. No incursions into the Ukraine were required. OTOH if the Crimea becomes a satellite of Russia they not only gain the rights to lay the pipeline but they now essentially control all the offshore oil/NG resources of the Ukraine.

    Crimea has already taken the offshore oil/NG resources and with Russian fleet guarding those fields no one, the Ukraine or NATO, will change that. So now in addition to still desperately needing Russian NG imports they’ve lost a significant portion of their domestic production. As bad as the Ukrainian economy was last month they’ve sunk much lower even without further Russian intervention. The EU needs to have the Ukraine allow Russian NG transit their country. The Ukraine is even greater need of Russian NG imports now that they’ve lost the offshore production. And the Ukraine is now in even greater need of a huge monetary bailout then ever before.

    So I have a vision: the EU bails out the Ukraine perhaps even paying off their multibillion NG debt to Russia. And in exchange, the Ukraine allows the NG to transit to the EU thus allowing the Russians to have a continued flow of euros heading their way.

    And to think some folks are surprised about the Russian reaction to the changing circumstances in the Ukraine. IMHO it seems more like a game of checkers than chess. LOL.

  10. Davy, Hermann, MO on Sun, 16th Mar 2014 8:02 pm 

    Arthur you need to read Rocks post for some a good summary of the situation. It may refine your understanding.

    I am afraid the Ukraine is going to become a tar baby for the west. If the west gets tiered of bank rolling the Ukraine it will sink into poverty and unrest. The west will have to have deep pockets to keep the Ukraine functioning or the Ukraine will eventually fall back into Russian influence. The Ukraine is already economically constructed to be linked to Russia. It seems to me the costs to the west are far too great for any advantage.

  11. rockman on Sun, 16th Mar 2014 9:44 pm 

    Davy – I can almost imagine a bizarre development: the EU leases the Ukraine pipeline system and has Halliburton or another company operate it. This eliminates maintenance issues as well as the Ukraine taking more than allowed. In fact, the EU might pay their lease fee directly to Russia paying for the NG the Ukraine draws off the system. Now that Ukraine has lost the offshore fields to the Crimea they’ll need the Russian NG more than ever.

    Maybe I should drop a line to Putin and the boys in Brussels and offer my services as a consultant. I don’t really give a crap about any of them. I just like putting together good common sense trades. Especially when I have some of the players by the balls. Come to think of it…do you have Mr. Kerry’s email addy? LOL.

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