Slovak pipeline operator Eustream offered increased capacity for gas shipments to Ukraine on Wednesday via a link opened last year to help Ukraine compensate for cuts in supplies from Russia.

The company said it was offering additional capacity of 8.5 million cubic metres per day, raising the maximum daily volumes to 40 million cubic metres. That would translate to up to 14.6 billion cubic metres per year, a substantial part of Ukraine's import needs.

The increase would bring total daily shipments close to the 48 million cubic metres already shipped by Russia through Ukraine to Slovakia and further west.

Eustream said bids for the new capacity, following technical improvements on the Ukrainian side, were due by Feb. 17, and the capacity would be available from March 1.