Ukrainian state gas transmission authority Operator GTS Ukrainy has lost control over a key transit pipeline hub in the war-torn Luhansk region in the east of the country, according to its officials.

If confirmed, this spells a reduction in throughput capacity of about 109 million cubic metres per day — or about a third of previous volumes contracted by Russian gas giant Gazprom.

Operator GTS executive director Sergey Makogon said the authority’s representatives had to leave the Sokhranivka transportation hub on the Russian-Ukrainian border earlier this week following an advance of Russian troops in the region.

After the operator announced a force majeure situation at Sokhranivka to Gazprom late on Tuesday, the Russian company reacted by halting the transportation of natural gas across the border one day later, according to Makogon.

The Russian military has also halted an important regional pipeline in the Luhansk region.

The duct, known as Shebelinka–Novopskov brings gas from the Kharkov region in the north to hundreds of thousand of customers in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions in the east of the country.

“Russian authorities bear full responsibility for the humanitarian consequences of such actions”, Makogon said, referring to the inability of the Ukrainian company to fulfil its obligations to deliver gas to households and businesses in these two regions.

Ukraine currently controls only a single gas transit hub, known as Sudzha, in the Kharkiv region on the country’s border with Ukraine.

Under a five-year transit contract between Gazprom and Ukraine’s state gas importer and distributor Naftohaz Ukrainy for the period between 2020 and 2024, the Russian company has committed to supply the maximum of 77 MMcmd of gas via Sudzha.

Operator GTS said on Tuesday evening that it had asked Gazprom to increase the volume of gas, pumped via Sudzha, to fully offset the loss of capacity at the Sokhranivka hub.

However, Gazprom’s spokesman Sergey Kupriyanov dismissed the request from Ukraine to divert the gas flows, saying that the percentage split of gas shipments between Sudzha and Sokhranivka is stipulated in the transit contract, and that the Russian company has seen “no proof” of the force majeure situation declared by Operator GTS.

The Kremlin has continued to deny that it is conducting a full-fledged war in Ukraine, describing only a “special military operation” to undermine military capabilities endangering Russia.

Under the Russian narrative, civilian and industrial infrastructure in the country are being shelled by Ukraine itself, and not by Russia, in a propaganda war.

Although Russian gas transit shipments to Europe via Ukraine have stayed well below the contracted volume of 109 MMcmd in recent weeks, maintaining the route intact has been seen as an important short-term task for European authorities, eager to replenish depleted gas storage facilities across the continent.

Germany sets the tone

Bundesnetzagentur, the German gas network regulator that took control over several Gazprom-managed storage units earlier this year, provided an optimistic update on the speed of the ongoing replenishment, with German gas inventory capacity estimated at 38.8% this week, compared with 26.4% a year ago.

The update eased mounting worries of deficit this winter in Germany, a Europe's largest gas consumer.

Prices for spot contracts for the delivery of gas later this year moved down by over 4% to about €96 ($101) per megawatt hour at the TTF trading hub in the Netherlands on Wednesday, losing most of Tuesday’s gains.

Supplies of Russian gas to Moldova have been also running at their contracted levels, country’s gas importer and distributer Moldovagaz said.

Moldova has a pro-Russian separatist enclave on left bank of the Dniester river with a Russian military contingent stationed there.

Until the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991, Moldova was part of the Soviet Union, and is thus seen lying in the orbit of Russia’s territorial ambitions today.

Stay a step ahead with the Upstream News app
Read high quality news and insight on the oil and gas business and its energy transition on-the-go. The News app offers you more control over your Upstream reading experience than any other platform.