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Zelenskyy proposes extension of Ukraine’s gas export ban

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President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has proposed extending an export ban on Ukrainian natural gas for the whole of 2024, a presidential decree said on Tuesday.

The export ban was introduced soon after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 and was then extended to cover 2023.

“To the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine: to decide ... on establishing a zero export quota for natural gas of Ukrainian origin in 2024,” the decree said.

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The decree also urged the government to increase the capacity of Ukraine’s gas transmission system “to ensure the import of natural gas and its accumulation in underground gas storage facilities”.

Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said last month Ukraine was ready to provide foreign energy traders with up to half of its underground gas storage capacity of 30 billion cubic meters (bcm).

Ukraine’s biggest oil and gas firm Naftogaz earlier this year said that foreign customers could use more than 10 bcm of storage, mostly in the country’s west, which is far from the front lines of the war.

Ukraine used to produce around 20 bcm of gas before the war and about a quarter of that was produced by private companies that exported some of the fuel.

Exports were halted after the outbreak of war to guarantee domestic needs.

Oleksiy Chernyshov, the head of the largest state-owned gas producer Naftogaz, said earlier this year the country intended to increase gas production in 2023 to 19.1 bcm and hoped to go through the winter without importing fuel.

He said Ukraine’s natural gas consumption was expected to fall below 20 bcm this year from about 27 bcm in 2021 while the country’s gas reserves exceeded 16 bcm.

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