Date: 27 February 2023 Author: Grzegorz Kuczyński

Ukraine Imports Gas via Moldova

In early February, Ukraine launched virtual reverse operations to supply gas to neighboring Moldova. Thus Ukraine has access to the Balkan gas grid while Moldova has strengthened its energy posture to the detriment of Gazprom.


Gas from Europe is now being imported via Moldova, Ukraine’s gas transport system operator GTSU announced in early February. The imports became possible after the Moldovan government amended legislation to allow companies to use what is known as virtual reverse flow or ‘backhaul’ techniques at interconnector points with Ukraine. Moldova is the last western neighbor of Ukraine to perform virtual reverse operations, after Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania. The new regulations provide for the transport through Moldova of up to 17 million cubic meters per day of natural gas through the Trans-Balkan and Iasi-Chisinau gas pipelines. This means Ukraine can import gas from the south on the Trans-Balkan natural gas transport corridor. It became possible for Ukraine to have access to gas from the networks of South-Eastern Europe after the Moldovan gas operator Moldovatransgaz announced that on January 27 it successfully tested gas deliveries to Ukraine from the EU in the backhaul regime. Moldova has over a quarter of a billion cubic meters of gas in reserve, stored in Romania and Ukraine because Moldova has no deposit facilities. The Chisinau authorities claim that there are enough reserves for Moldova to get through this winter. Russia has accused Moldova of illegally storing gas in Ukraine, even though Chisinau did not purchase the energy stored in Ukraine from Gazprom but from the free market. This was necessary as in October 2022, Gazprom cut natural gas supplies to Moldova by around 30 percent and 56 percent last December. In January 2023, gas deliveries to Moldova stood at only 40 percent of what the country actually bought. Connecting Moldova’s and Ukraine’s gas systems also matters for recent claims that Russia is allegedly planning to destabilize Moldova while using Transnistria as a foothold in its war against Ukraine. according to the Ukrainian intelligence agency. Tensions have considerably mounted in the region. Fearing a Russian provocation, Ukraine deployed some of its troops closer to the Moldovan breakaway region of Transnistria. Russia has falsely claimed that Ukraine is planning to invade Transnistria, raising suspicions that Moscow is looking for a pretext to annex the separatist region, where up to 2,000 Russian soldiers are stationed.

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