‘Transit of gas via Ukraine of strategic importance’

Bratislava, June 22 (IANS) The transit of gas via Ukraine is of strategic importance and needs to be maintained even in the future, said Maros Sefcovic, the vice-president of the European Commission’s Energy Union, at the GLOBSEC security forum here.

“It’s an enormous gas highway with a capacity of 140 billion cubic metres yearly. The capacity of Ukrainian transit to the EU cannot be fully replaced, regardless of any other project currently discussed,” stressed Sefcovic, Xinhua reported on Sunday.

The infrastructure for gas transit from Russia to the European Union is used to only 57 percent of full capacity. According to the EU, the alternative routes proposed by the Russian side either lack sufficient infrastructure, feature bottlenecks that do not allow adequate supplies or, as in the case of the Turkish Stream pipeline, are still in the planning stage.

“Is it necessary to start new large projects with the sole intent being only to bypass Ukraine? Ukraine is prepared to undertake very painful reforms: it passed a new bill on gas that copies European legislation,” said Sefcovic.

He said he still expects a rational discussion that will take the cost-benefit ratio, interests of European energy security, and effective economic solutions for gas exporters and importers into account.

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