After the gas crisis of 2008 to 2009, during which Russia cut off gas supplies to Ukraine for nearly two weeks, Europe resolved to beef up its energy infrastructure to help prevent such an event in the future. By building out so-called “reverse flow” capabilities, European countries could increase their ability to supply one another in the case of crisis. Now, as Reuters reports, Europe’s reverse flow capacity looks set to jump nearly 27 percent this weekend:
Reverse flows have received a major boost from the new Budince interconnection point between Slovakia and Ukraine. Flows between the two countries began last September following a deal between Slovak transmission system operator Eustream and its Ukrainian counterpart Ukrtransgaz.In addition, EU member Poland can send 4 mcm per day into Ukraine and Hungary has the capacity to send 16 mcm/day, although Polish reverse flows have not been used this year.
The thinking behind this strategy is easy to understand: it’s not feasible for Europe to significantly reduce its dependence on Russian gas, but if it can construct a more robust pipeline network, it can undercut Putin’s divide-and-conquer strategy. It’s not a perfect solution, but for the time being it’s the best Europe—and especially Ukraine—can hope to employ.