Ukraine is prepared to take legal action against Gazprom to unblock natural gas supplies from central Asia, a move that could ensure it has sufficient domestic supply and transit revenues even if Russia’s nearly completed Nord Stream 2 pipeline comes on stream this year. Gazprom controls the flow of gas through its pipelines into Ukraine from central Asia. It has blocked these flows for 15 years and if it does not approve them, the head of Ukraine’s state gas company says he is ready to appeal to the EU’s competition authorities and take the Russian energy giant to international arbitration.

“It will be a game changer because as we all understand there is a huge potential basically to transport central Asian gas through Ukraine to Europe,” Yuriy Vitrenko, chief executive of Naftogaz Ukraine, told the Financial Times. “We are talking about tens of billions of cubic metres . . . central Asian gas alone can fill the whole Ukrainian gas transit system,” he added.

Naftogaz is preparing formal requests to secure gas from the region and obtain permission to transport it through Gazprom’s pipelines, a process that Vitrenko said could take months. Yuriy Vitrenko said there was ‘huge potential basically to transport central Asian gas through Ukraine to Europe’ O Stefan Franko/EPA-EFE

“If they [Gazprom] say no, then the next step would be a complaint [to the European Commission] and arbitration,” added Vitrenko, pointing to a process that could take years. Kyiv could appeal to Brussels to apply EU competition law because it affects supply of gas to EU markets.