Slovakia has signed an agreement with Ukraine that will allow the European Union to send gas to the latter nation via Slovakia.
Under the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), Slovakia will modernise the unused Vojany pipeline that will be capable of shipping around 22 million cubic meters of gas a day – or eight billion a year.
Ukraine has been looking for alternatives to Russian gas – which last year accounted for around half of its 55 billion cubic meters of usage – since Russia annexed Crimea last month and Gazprom raised prices for its gas.
Ukraine also owes Russian energy firm Gazprom around $2.2 billion (£1.3bn) for supplies of gas – leading to a dispute between the two nations, with Ukrainian officials concerned that the nation’s supply of gas could be cut off.
Commissioner for Energy Günther Oettinger said the deal “marks a milestone”. He added: “It is a first step for gas flows from Slovakia to Ukraine and strengthens the ties between the EU’s energy market and Ukraine. Gas via Slovakia will bring a considerable addition to the volumes that Ukraine can already import from Hungary and Poland.
“Deliveries from EU Member States offer Ukraine access to gas priced on the basis of fair and transparent principles.”
Last year Ukraine imported around two billion cubic meters of gas from EU Member States.