The Russian gas monopolist company Gazprom will not be able to fulfill its obligations to European companies on uninterrupted supply of gas without using Ukrainian underground gas storages (UGS), since there is not an alternative to such storages either in Russia or in Europe.

Russian expert on oil and gas sector, partner and analyst of the consulting company RusEnergy Mikhail Krutikhin said in an interview to Ukrinform.

“The situation is such that Gazprom will not fulfill its obligations to the Europeans, if it fails to pump gas to Ukrainian gas storages... If it rents a storage facility in Europe, first, it will be of insufficient capacity and, second, a price for storage of those capacities is rather high, about USD 50/1,000 cu m. Therefore, it will be very unprofitable for Gazprom,” he said.

At the same time, the Russian expert stressed that, in its time, Gazprom frustrated fulfillment of the program on creation of new gas storage facilities on the territory of Russia, which was designated for 2005-2011, and had to use Ukrainian capacities.

The expert expressed conviction that a scheme for performance of Russian transit via the territory of Ukraine may be changed.

“The Ukrainian side buys gas, pumps it into its storages, and then, when the high season comes, Gazprom repurchases this gas and supplies to European consumers. In other words, the scheme was rather simple, although it is not quite clear why Ukraine should pay for this. Could Gazprom simply rent space at Ukrainian storages?” the expert noted.

One of the ways out of this situation, he sees Gazprom's agreement with Naftogaz and European energy companies on pumping Russian gas to Ukrainian UGS on the lease of space basis.

“This could be a serious step toward integration of the Ukrainian gas transportation system into the European energy system,” Krutikhin noted.