Ukraine may face gas shortage: Who is about to get shut off?

Author : Olena Holubeva

Source : 112 Ukraine

In the current heating season, for the first time since 2014, Ukraine may face the need to seriously limit gas consumption by industrial enterprises in order to cover the shortage of blue fuel at low temperatures in January-February
15:47, 28 November 2021

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This season, gas is saving the industry from restrictions on the supply of electricity: due to a shortage in the system, it is used at CHPPs to generate electricity. In the near future, TPP units can also be connected to these needs, which will significantly increase gas consumption.

Winter gas shortage

We have got the calculations of daily gas consumption in November-April by analysts of one of the largest gas traders in Ukraine. Based on open data on the daily consumption of natural gas in Ukraine last year, published by the Ministry of Energy, they predict that if the current winter-spring temperatures do not differ from last year's, Ukraine will not have enough 3.6 billion cubic meters to cover its gas needs. ... m. This is almost a tenth of the gas consumed in Ukraine. The largest gaps between the volume of consumption and the actual availability of the resource are expected in January-February - 1 billion cubic meters and 1.13 billion cubic meters respectively.

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The largest peak 30-day period with the highest demand for natural gas was from January 2 to January 31, according to a report from the Ministry of Energy. During this period, the average daily demand for natural gas in Ukraine stood at 154.6 million cubic meters per day. From January 16 to 22, the average daily demand was at the level of 178.2 million cubic meters, and on some days it reached almost 200 million cubic meters.

"Peak demand last year was covered by receipts from own production - 53-54 million cubic meters per day, imports - up to 16 million cubic meters and gas withdrawals from UGS facilities at the maximum level - up to 139.2 million cubic meters. If gas consumption in the current season remains at the level of the previous one, although a year ago the winter was warm, and this year, according to preliminary forecasts of weather forecasters, we are promised cold weather, with stable receipts from gas production enterprises and imports at the level of last year, the resource shortage may be Approximately 20-30 million cubic meters per day Underground storage facilities are unlikely to be able to compensate for it, since they are only 60% full and will not be able to cover gas withdrawals at the level of 140 million cubic meters per day, as was the case last year. According to the information published on the website of the Ukrtransgaz gas storage operator, with the current filling of the UGS facilities, the maximum peak daily withdrawals can only be achieved by 90-110 million cubic meters," Volodymyr Gnoevy, head of the dispatching department of the YE Energia company.

“Domestic production of natural gas per day is 50-55 million cubic meters, and domestic consumption is from 85 to 130 million cubic meters per day, depending on the air temperature. UGS facilities will no longer have enough gas to provide the necessary pressure to raise it. In addition, it is necessary to maintain the necessary filling of the "pipe" to ensure the conditions of the transit contract to Europe," ex-Minister of Energy Olga Buslavets said in a comment.

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Gennady Kobal, director of ExPro Consulting, does not deny the likelihood that by the end of January and beginning of February, with a stable minus outside the window, it will not be possible to avoid problems. According to him, there will be no deficit in December. "The UGS facility has 16.5 billion cubic meters of gas plus production of 1.7 billion cubic meters. It depends on the weather, but it is unlikely that we will consume more than 4 billion cubic meters in December. At the beginning of January, 14 billion cubic meters remain. I think that if problems arise, then not earlier than the end of January or the beginning of February," he said.

Ukraine is unable to buy expensive imported gas

Ukraine began the current heating season with 36% less gas reserves than last year - 18 billion cubic meters as of November 1. For comparison: in the 2019-2020 season. at the beginning of the season, there were 21.3 billion cubic meters. m, and in 2018-2019. - 17.2 billion cubic meters of gas. Over the 24 days of November, the volume of gas in UGS facilities decreased by 1.5 billion cubic meters and currently stands at 16.4 billion cubic meters, Olga Buslavets told us. As you know, the level of maximum daily withdrawals directly depends on the filling level of the storage facilities.

At the same time, in none of the past winters, we could not do without imported gas. Due to gas of its own production, Ukraine covered no more than 65% of the demand last year and 69% the year before.

The total volume of imported gas in 2020 amounted to 15.84 billion cubic meters.

“This heating season in Ukraine has stopped gas imports for the first time in many years. By October, its volumes fell by almost 5 times, when compared with the volume of receipts in the summer, and since November 1, imports have stopped altogether. Naftogaz has not been importing gas since November 1, with small volumes of up to 200,000 cubic meters per day from abroad are supplied to private companies," Kobal said.

There is simply no money to buy gas. "The price of gas on the European market at the end of last week was $ 1108 per 1,000 cubic meters. Calculating the need for funds is not difficult. A lot of money is needed," says Buslavets.

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She stressed that, based on the available technical capabilities, it takes 2-2.5 months to supply the volume of imported gas that Ukraine needs in the heating season. "Most likely, the supply can be from Slovakia in the amount of 27 million cubic meters per day (based on the throughput capacity of the infrastructure, - ed.) Or 800 million cubic meters per month. There is no time to delay this process!" said Buslavets, noting that she had not yet heard of negotiations regarding the purchase of additional gas.

Despite the high cost of gas, this season Ukraine uses it to generate electricity in order to avoid a shortage in the system. As has repeatedly reported, such a threat persists due to low coal reserves. Already on November 2, Ukraine had to request emergency assistance from Belarus to cover the deficit in the ECO. In the last heating season, Ukraine requested emergency assistance from Belarus much later - on January 18 and February 2.

On November 20, a boat with coal for Centrenergo arrived at the Yuzhny port. Seven boats have been contracted for the delivery of coal by sea, an average of 70 thousand tons each. But this coal will only last for 7-8 days of thermal generation. "After simple arithmetic calculations, it is clear that there is a power shortage in the UPS during the hours of maximum load from 2 to 3 GW," Olga Buslavets writes on Facebook.

In November, the situation with the coverage of peak loads was saved thanks to the launch of gas-fired CHP units. “Considering the critical situation with coal at state-owned TPPs, Centerenergo and the difficult situation at other (stations), I think that in the near future the regulator will adjust its decision regarding the purchase of an auxiliary replacement reserve service and extend it to coal-fired TPPs (having blocks that can work on gas, - ed.). In the current situation, this is an opportunity to minimize the risks of disconnections of consumers. For this, according to calculations, an additional 1.5 to 2 billion cubic meters of natural gas is needed (depending on weather conditions)," said Olga Buslavets.

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Restrictions for consumers will be introduced

If the pessimistic forecasts come true, it will not be possible to go through the winter without serious restrictions on gas consumption for industrial consumers, experts say. In Ukraine, such measures have not been introduced since 2014. This is not counting the "Screw up" campaign in 2018, when Naftogaz appealed to all gas consumers to voluntarily reduce consumption for several days.

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"There are not many options: to introduce a National Action Plan, to stop gas re-export, to restrict consumption, to stop the work of some enterprises. There are already examples: the Odesa Port Plant, the flagship of the chemical industry, suspended its work on September 20," says Gnoevy.

If there is a serious shortage of gas, its supply will be limited to large consumers: chemists, metallurgists, agrees Kobal.

Of course, this will also affect the level of budget revenues and tax revenues.

So far, no one even thinks about the shutdowns of heating plants and the population. They will receive gas until the very end, experts say. Gas cutoffs for these categories in frost are fraught with large-scale disasters: large-scale accidents in the system, pipe ruptures, after which it will not be easy to restore the supply of the resource. A repetition of the Alchevsk disaster in other Ukrainian cities will have irreparable consequences, and the authorities are well aware of this.

“First of all, gas will be provided to the population and heat and power plants. For these categories of gas, state production (up to 40 million cubic meters per day), given the available reserves in the UGS facility, will be enough. 120 million cubic meters per day During the last heating season in October-April 2020/21, this category consumed about 11 billion cubic meters. m, which is fully ensured by the capabilities of the UGS facility with the current filling," Gnoevy assured.

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