Almost all export gas pipelines built during the Soviet era (Urengoy-Pomary-Uzhhorod, Soyuz, Progress, Bratstvo, Radiance of the North and a number of others) passed through the territory of Ukraine. At the same time, export pipelines were not isolated from local gas distribution networks, and transit gas was not physically separated from “internal” gas. Therefore, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine and Russia had to solve a whole range of problems, including dividing the gas transmission network, agreeing on the conditions for gas transit to Europe, and creating a system to control gas withdrawal by Ukrainian consumers.
Negotiations on these issues took 8 months, and in August 1992 the first intergovernmental agreement between Russia and Ukraine on natural gas supplies and gas transit through the territory of Ukraine was signed. Under this agreement, Russia pledged to supply 70 billion cubic meters of gas per year for the needs of Ukraine, and Ukraine pledged to transport 100 billion cubic meters of gas per year to Europe and Moldova.
Alas, exactly one year after the signing of this document, due to chronic non-payments, Gazprom limited gas supplies to Ukraine. However, the conflict was soon settled, and six months later, in February 1994, a new intergovernmental agreement was signed, already of a strategic nature – for a period of 10 years. The agreement determined the volume of deliveries to Ukraine (50-70 billion cubic meters per year), European transit through Ukraine (80-90 billion cubic meters per year) and transit of Central Asian gas to Ukraine through Russia (25-35 billion cubic meters per year). Commercial aspects were supposed to be coordinated within the framework of annual price agreements. The ban on re-export was specifically stipulated.
This was followed by a period of relative stability, “exploded” already in the second half of the “zero” years. On January 1, 2006, due to the non-signing of the price contract, Gazprom reduced the gas supply to Ukraine by the volume of domestic consumption. This incident was immediately called “gas war”, and gas – “energy weapon”. It took three days to resolve the issue.
On January 1, 2009, the situation repeated itself exactly, but it took much longer to resolve it – almost three weeks. Accordingly, taking into account the fact that Ukraine did not reduce the volume of domestic consumption, Central Europe faced an acute shortage of gas and began to freeze in earnest, which was a real shock for many of its inhabitants.
To bypass problematic Ukraine, in 2012 Gazprom began construction of the South Stream export gas pipeline across the Black Sea to Bulgaria and further to the high-margin markets of Greece, Italy and Austria. However, the European Union blocked this project.
After the “Crimean spring” and “Donbass summer” of 2014, the issues of gas supply to Ukraine and gas export transit through its territory became deeply politicized. However, oddly enough, there have been no emergencies on the “gas front” since then – apparently, all participants in the process drew the right conclusions from the lessons of the harsh winter of 2009. As a result, at the end of 2019, Gazprom and Naftogaz Ukrainy settled the issues of mutual obligations and signed a transit agreement for the next decade.
With Belarus, the gas dialogue developed according to a different scenario, although even here there were some conflicts. The most acute situation arose on December 31, 2006, when the contract for the supply and transit of gas for 2007 was signed … 2 minutes before the start of the new year. The following year, the problem was solved radically – Gazprom bought half of the shares of the state gas transportation operator Beltransgaz, by the way, one of the most profitable enterprises in Belarus. In 2011, the entire vast economy of Beltransgaz (8 regional departments, the Mozyr underground gas storage, a network of gas filling stations, the Engineering and Technical Center, the Molodechno Drilling Department and the Alesya sanatorium) became the full property of Gazprom, and the company changed its name to Gazprom Transgaz Belarus.