Naftogaz Threatens Gazprom With Legal Action Over Blocked Gas Supplies From Central Asia

MOSCOW (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 14th June, 2021) Ukrainian state energy company Naftogaz is ready to take legal action against Russia's Gazprom if it fails to secure the transit of natural gas from Central Asia, Yuriy Vitrenko, the company's executive officer, told Financial Times.

According to the newspaper, the Russian company that "controls" the flow of gas through its pipelines into Ukraine from Central Asia has blocked the routes for 15 years. If it does not unblock them, Naftogaz threatens to appeal to the EU competition watchdog as this would affect gas supplies to the European Union and take the case to international arbitration.

"If they [Gazprom] say no, then the next step would be a complaint [to the European Commission] and arbitration," Vitrenko said.

In particular, Naftogaz is drafting formal requests to ensure gas supplies from the region and seeks to obtain authorization to transport it through Gazprom's pipelines.

"It will be a game changer because as we all understand there is a huge potential basically to transport central Asian gas through Ukraine to Europe," Vitrenko said, noting that "central Asian gas alone can fill the whole Ukrainian gas transit system."

The process can take years, however. The newspaper noted that the opening of Central Asian supply routes could ensure the sufficiency of Ukraine's domestic supply and transit revenues, even after the commissioning of Nord Stream 2 pipelines this year.

The Russian company refused to comment on the matter to the newspaper.

In 2019, Moscow and Kiev signed a deal to extend gas transit through Ukraine for five more years. Though Moscow has repeatedly said that it would continue relying on the neighbor's transport capacities to pump gas to Europe in the coming years despite building additional pipelines, Kiev supports efforts to hinder the Nord Stream 2 project, which will be pumping gas directly to Europe bypassing Ukraine.

Following the appointment as Naftogaz's chief in late April, Vitrenko affirmed the company's intentions to use all tools at its disposal to put pressure on Gazprom, including filing new lawsuits, in addition to fighting the Nord Stream 2 project.