The Romanian transmission system operator Transgaz has come under criticism from local and regional stakeholders following a decision to change the terms of its interconnection agreements with Ukraine.
According to a note sent to network users on 29 December and seen by ICIS, Transgaz expects to offer 122,555MWh/day of interruptible capacity from Romania to Ukraine from 1 January 2021.
Transgaz argues that it would have to offer interruptible capacity at the Isaccea1 – Orlovka interconnection point on the Trans-Balkan line because of a mismatch in the quality of gas in Ukraine and that in Romania and Bulgaria.
The note does not spell out what the differences refer to but it had suggested on a separate occasion that this may relate to the methane content.
The Ukrainian methane content is higher than that of Romania but both parties had agreed to a 90% content in the interconnection agreement signed at the end of 2019.
The issue had not been raised until a few weeks ago when Transgaz argued that the mismatch may create problems.
Technical specialists interviewed by ICIS at the time said differences in methane content were irrelevant.
TRANSGAZ DECISION QUESTIONED
Under the latest decision volumes sourced in Romania or regionally could only be exported into Ukraine on an interruptible basis, slowing down progress on developing a bidirectional transit corridor on the Trans-Balkan line.
Traders and European officials interviewed by ICIS say the decision may not comply with EU rules on at least two accounts.
Firstly, Transgaz may have changed the terms of the agreement unilaterally.
ICIS understands that Transgaz notified the Ukrainian gas grid operator in November, suggesting that it would not offer any export capacity at Isaccea 1 because of a mismatch in the quality of natural gas.
Ukrainian stakeholders reportedly offered to start a discussion group to agree on changing the terms of the interconnection agreement which had been signed between GTSO and Transgaz at the end of 2019.
An EU official said Transgaz’s decision to alter the interconnection agreement may be unlawful if it did not receive the Ukrainian nod of approval.
Secondly, Romanian traders questioned Transgaz’s decision to switch the type of capacity offered at the border in the middle of the gas year.
Data published by Transgaz show the transmission system operator had offered 121,555MWh/day of firm capacity between 1 October – 28 December 2020 at this border point.
Finally, regional sources say Transgaz has not consulted traders on the changes.
The EU’s network code on interoperability and data exchange insists that before concluding or amending an interconnection agreement, transmission system operators have to invite network users to comment on the proposed text of those rules at least two months before the agreement is amended.
Romania does not apply the EU’s network code on its borders with Ukraine but regional traders say Transgaz should have notified participants on the proposed changes.
ICIS sent a list of questions to both Ion Sterian, CEO of Transgaz, and the operator’s press department but received no answers by publication time.
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