Katja Yafimava

Senior Research Fellow

Dr. Katja Yafimava is Senior Research Fellow on the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies Natural Gas Research Programme. She holds a D.Phil. in Geography and an M.Phil. in Russian and East European Studies from Oxford University. She was an expert at the EU-Russia Gas Advisory Council during 2012-2016. Prior to joining the Institute in 2006 she was an intern at Shell and at the Energy Charter Secretariat. She is the author of The Transit Dimension of EU Energy Security: Russian Gas Transit Across Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova, a book published by OUP in 2011. She is also the author and co-author of chapters in other books including The Russian Gas Matrix: how markets are driving change (OUP 2014), Research Handbook on International Energy Law (Edward Elgar 2014), The Pricing of Internationally Traded Gas (OUP 2012), Russian and CIS Gas Markets and their Impact on Europe (OUP 2009). She is also the author and co-author of several working papers on Russia-Ukraine, Russia-Belarus, and Russia-Moldova gas transit disputes, the latest in these series is a co-authored paper ‘Russian Gas Transit across Ukraine Post-2019: pipeline scenarios, gas flow consequences, and regulatory constraints’ (2016). She has published several working papers on EU and Russian gas regulation including ‘The Evolution of Gas Pipeline Regulation in Russia – third party access, capacity allocation and transportation tariffs’ (2015), ‘The EU Third Package for Gas and the Gas Target Model: major contentious issues inside and outside the EU’ (2013), and mostly recently ‘The OPAL Exemption Decision: past, present, and future’ (2017).  She is currently working on a new paper ‘Incremental and New Pipeline Capacity in Europe, and its implications for European Security of Supply’.

Twitter: @katyafimava

For selected non-OIES publications click please click here

Areas of Expertise
EU gas regulation: the Third Energy Package, the EU Network Codes; the Gas Target Model; the transit dimension of EU energy security; Russia’s gas relations with Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova; Russian gas issues: transportation, regulation, exports.

 

Contact

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                    [post_content] => Since the OPAL pipeline started operating, more than five years ago, Gazprom has been unable to use more than 50 per cent of its capacity – even if such was not required by third parties – due to a regulatory cap imposed by the European Commission (EC) in June 2009. In October 2016 the EC adopted a new decision which removed the cap and attempted to strike a fine balance between the interests of all parties involved: while it allows Gazprom to bid for the remaining 50 per cent of OPAL capacity, it also guarantees that third parties will have access to at least 20 per cent, as Gazprom is not allowed to outbid them for that share. The decision manifests a (belated) recognition on the part of the EC that there was no rationale, rooted in the acquis, for maintaining the OPAL cap, which has become increasingly illogical and prone to criticisms of having being imposed on political grounds. Having recognised that politicisation threatens to undermine the credibility of the EU regulatory gas framework, the EC moved back into the comfort zone of rules-based regulatory decision-making, of which the October 2016 decision is an example. Poland’s legal challenge to this decision is an attempt to move in the opposite direction and risks creating a precedent in which political objectives are allowed to override regulatory rules.

As such the October 2016 decision signifies an important turning point in how Russian gas will be transported to Europe in the future. It could serve as an enabler for finding a new contractual arrangement between Gazprom and Naftogaz (with mediation from the EC) for continuing transit across Ukraine post-2019 once the existing contract expires, thus reducing the urgency for the construction of Nord Stream 2 and/or the Turkish/South Stream pipelines. However should either the decision or the arrangement with Naftogaz fail or be further delayed by legal proceedings, the opposite could be the case. In any event, the decision could serve as a guidance for future regulatory treatment of onshore extensions of any new Russian transit-diversification pipelines.

Executive Summary
                    [post_title] => The OPAL Exemption Decision: past, present, and future
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                    [post_content] => The future of the transportation of Russian gas to Europe is wide open. The role of Ukraine, historically the main transit corridor, will change after the current transit contract between Gazprom and Naftogaz Ukrainy expires on 31 December 2019. Gazprom has already substantially reduced the volumes of gas it transits across Ukraine, and expressed its intention of reducing the level further by means of transit diversification pipelines (Nord Stream, Turkish Stream, etc). While that strategy is broadly supported by the largest purchasers of Russian gas in Europe, in Brussels there is political opposition, in addition to regulatory barriers to the pipeline projects. Tensions over these issues have risen sharply as a result of the Ukrainian political crisis of 2014, the annexation of Crimea, and the resulting deterioration of Russia-Ukraine and Russia-Europe political relations. In contrast to the wealth of commentary that has appeared about the political issues, this paper focuses on the natural gas trade itself. It includes scenarios that allow a comparison of Gazprom’s long-term contractual commitments with possible gas flows in the 2020s through existing and possible future pipeline networks; it considers the regulatory issues and obstacles to building new large scale infrastructure of the kind Gazprom proposes; and it looks at the possible commercial and contractual frameworks for future gas transit across, and gas supply to, Ukraine.
                    [post_title] => Russian Gas Transit Across Ukraine Post-2019 - pipeline scenarios, gas flow consequences, and regulatory constraints
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                    [post_content] => Executive Summary

Russia has been reforming its domestic gas transportation regime since the mid-2000s and achieved significant progress through an introduction of legal unbundling, establishment of a legal/regulatory framework for non-discriminatory access and a new zonal tariff methodology. However the existing framework remains insufficiently developed both in scope (e.g. non-applicability to non-UGS systems, storage and LNG infrastructure) and content (e.g. significant room for discretion in choice of routes for third party gas and capacity allocation in the event of capacity deficit); the new draft framework, currently under discussion in government, aims to address these problems.

From the Russian state’s point of view, the aim of domestic gas market reform – including the reform of the gas transportation regime – is to establish a level playing field for Gazprom and non-Gazprom parties in order to ensure the optimal development of the domestic gas sector and the Russian economy as a whole, while preserving the country’s competitive position as an exporter to both European and Asian gas markets.

A new study by Katja Yafimava argues that at present, this aim is to be achieved by increasing direct government involvement and strengthened FTS (Federal Tariff Service) and FAS (Federal Antimonopoly Service) oversight. However, should these measures fail, then more radical measures such as abolition of the UGS system indivisibility principle, with subsequent Gazprom ownership unbundling and the state becoming the owner of both the UGS and non-UGS networks, might be required. In early 2015, however, this seems a ‘last resort’ measure which is not under consideration by the authorities.
                    [post_title] => Evolution of gas pipeline regulation in Russia - Third party access, capacity allocation and transportation tariffs
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                    [post_content] => The cancellation of the South Stream gas pipeline across the Black Sea may signal a fundamental reorientation of Russian gas export policy. Its replacement by similar pipelines direct to Turkey, and the abandonment of Gazprom’s long time strategy of supplying gas directly to European customers, comes in the wake of financial sanctions and an inability to negotiate the construction of new pipelines within the EU due to Third Energy Package regulation. The signing a first major pipeline export contract with China in 2014, and the possibility of a second contract in 2015, is shifting the emphasis of future Russian gas exports away from Europe and towards Asia. The irony of this change, which has largely been forced on Russia following US and EU measures taken in response to the Ukraine crisis, is that it has pushed Gazprom into a much more logical commercial export strategy and one which it should have adopted some years previously. The principal problem is that financial sanctions may prevent the company from being able to simultaneously finance a number of very large pipeline export projects.
                    [post_title] => Does the cancellation of South Stream signal a fundamental reorientation of Russian gas export policy?
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                    [post_content] => There is limited scope for significantly reducing overall European dependence on Russian gas before the mid-2020s. Countries in the Baltic region and south eastern Europe which are highly dependent on Russian gas, and hence extremely vulnerable to interruptions, could substantially reduce and even eliminate imports of Russian gas by the early 2020s, by a combination of LNG and pipeline gas from Azerbaijan. Similar measures could reduce (but not eliminate) the dependence of central Europe and Turkey on Russian gas. However, Russian gas will be highly competitive with all other pipeline gas and LNG (including US LNG) supplies to Europe, and Gazprom’s market power to impact European hub prices may be considerable. Countries with strong geopolitical fears related to Russian gas dependence will need to either terminate, or not renew on expiry, their long term contracts with Gazprom.
                    [post_title] => Reducing European Dependence on Russian Gas - distinguishing natural gas security from geopolitics
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                    [post_content] => The change of government in Kyiv, the Russian military action in Crimea, the diplomatic reaction by the western powers, and the perceived danger of war, clearly have implications for all economic relations between Russia, Ukraine and Europe, especially in the energy sphere. Russia supplies about 30% of Europe’s natural gas, and more than half of these volumes are still transported via Ukraine. In Ukraine, gas supply issues are combined with the economic upheavals aggravated by political crisis.

As of March 10th 2014, the most likely source of supply disruptions is the serious indebtedness of Naftogaz Ukrainy, which, despite clearing some of its $3.3 billion debt to Gazprom in late February, as of 7 March was in arrears to Gazprom by a sum of just under $2 billion.  In previous Russo-Ukrainian gas disputes, such a build-up of debt has led to Gazprom cutting off deliveries to Ukrainian customers and the subsequent diversion of transit gas bound for Europe to consumption in Ukraine. This led in January 2009 to all westward deliveries of Russian gas, both to EU and Ukrainian destinations, being suspended for two weeks.

If gas deliveries through Ukraine are halted the impact would be less serious than in 2009, because (i) the Nord Stream pipeline, which transports Russian gas to Germany without crossing Ukraine or Belarus, has been completed, and other interconnections have improved the situation in eastern Europe; and (ii) the economic situation, and the arrival of milder weather means that demand is relatively low.

From Europe’s standpoint, commercial logic would suggest that support would be given to diversifying gas transit away from Ukraine, including regulatory support for the South Stream pipeline, which, if completed with four strings, should enable the transit of Russian gas through Ukraine to be suspended completely by 2020. However, it is possible that a political move to minimise cooperation with Russia on energy issues in line with European governments’ views of the Russian action in Crimea – may prevail. In this case, the EU-Russian disputes over gas imports and regulation will worsen, with potentially negative consequences for South Stream. Moreover, European efforts to diversify away from Russian gas, the success of which has been limited in the past because of the economic costs, will be revived.
                    [post_title] => What the Ukrainian crisis means for gas markets
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                    [post_name] => what-the-ukrainian-crisis-means-for-gas-markets
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                    [post_content] => The general provisions introduced by the Third Package (which became law in March 2011) and the detailed provisions to be outlined in the pan-European network codes for cross-border issues (currently under development) are set to fundamentally change the architecture of the EU gas market heralding a transition to a new model.

Ensuring that the transition to this new model is as smooth as possible, and that it results in the creation of a fully liberalised EU gas market, requires a clear vision of its main characteristics and the means of achieving them. This vision was offered by the Gas Target Model, endorsed by European gas regulators in 2011. Both the Third Package and the Gas Target Model have set in motion the process of fundamental changes to the regulatory landscape of the EU gas market.

Katja Yafimava’s paper details this evolving landscape and sets out the key debates on issues of capacity allocation and congestion management. The paper’s secondary focus is the impact on Russia, as the main external supplier of gas to Europe, and in particular the impact on Gazprom’s existing supply and capacity contracts and its plans to build extensive new pipeline capacity for exports to Europe.

The paper outlines the major, and often contentious, regulatory issues within the EU, and the latter’s relationship with Russia, and concludes that the transition from the old to the new model of the EU gas market will be difficult, and that these regulatory issues must be resolved for it to be successful and result in a fully liberalised EU gas market, without jeopardising security of supply and transportation objectives.
                    [post_title] => The EU Third Package for Gas and the Gas Target Model: major contentious issues inside and outside the EU
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                    [post_content] => In June 2010 Belarus - the former Soviet country that does not feature too often in European media - attracted many headlines because of its transit dispute with Russia’s Gazprom. Presented with an ultimatum to repay its gas debt it five days or face supplies cuts, Belarus confronted Gazprom with a counter-demand to pay the debt for transit at an increased rate, threatening to reduce and potentially halt transit of gas and oil to Europe. This was not the first transit dispute between Belarus and Russia: the two countries went through several such incidents in the past, including in February 2004, January 2007 and January 2010. Only two past disputes – the 2004 gas dispute and the 2007 oil dispute – actually resulted in transit interruptions. All of these disputes were milestones marking the Russia’s quest to commercialise its gas and oil relationship with Belarus. The Russian government set this course in the early 2000s, once it had become clear that the project of political integration with Belarus had failed. Thus Russia decided to end various subsidies to Belarus - most significantly, the subsidy to Belarusian oil refineries provided by the sale of crude oil without export duty, and the subsidy included in cheap gas prices. The loss of $2bn in oil subsidies and an anticipated rise of gas bill created significant pressure on the Belarus’ finances, which were already under severe strain as a result of the financial and economic crisis of 2008. Aware of its decreasing negotiating power vis-à-vis Gazprom, because of the Nord Stream pipeline completion in 2012, Belarus attempted to use its (still important) gas
and oil transit position to secure better commercial terms and thus improve its overall economic position. The worsening political relationship between the two countries may have made the achievement of this aim even more difficult.
                    [post_title] => The June 2010 Russian-Belarusian Gas Transit Dispute: a surprise that was to be expected
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                    [post_content] => An agreement signed on 21 April 2010 by Russian president Dmitry Medvedev and his newly-elected Ukrainian counterpart Viktor Yanukovich provided for a 30% discount on Russian gas imported to Ukraine, in return for a 25-year extension of the lease to Russia of the Black Sea naval base at Sevastopol. The agreement came along with declarations from both sides that political and diplomatic relationships would improve after the departure of Yanukovich‟s predecessor Viktor Yushchenko, whose pronounced pro-western foreign policy, centred on NATO accession, was distrusted in Moscow. There followed a flurry of other proposals for deeper Russo-Ukrainian cooperation – in the electricity generation, atomic, aerospace and telecoms sectors, among others. This article considers the significance of the new agreement with Russia, (a) for Ukraine as a gas transit country, and for the European states that rely on Russian imports transported via Ukraine, and (b) for the Ukrainian gas market.
                    [post_title] => The April 2010 Russo-Ukrainian gas agreement and its implications for Europe
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                    [post_date] => 2009-02-01 00:00:31
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                    [post_content] => The gas dispute between Russia and Ukraine in January 2009 was by far the most serious of its kind. The two sides failed to agree a price for Russian gas supply to Ukraine and a tariff for the transit of Russian gas to Europe before previous agreements expired on 31 December 2008. Russian exports to Ukraine were cut off on 1 January. Exports to 16 EU member states and Moldova were drastically reduced on 6 January and cut completely from 7 January. Deliveries to both Ukraine and other European countries restarted on 20 January following the signing of two new ten year contracts. The most seriously affected countries in the Balkans experienced a humanitarian emergency, with parts of the populations unable to heat their homes. Significant economic problems, but not of a humanitarian kind, were also caused in Hungary and Slovakia.
                    [post_title] => The Russo-Ukrainian gas dispute of January 2009: a comprehensive assessment
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                    [post_content] => After prolonged negotiations, the 2007 Russia-Belarus Agreement was signed two minutes before the previous contract expired, with Europe wondering whether there would be a repetition of last year’s Russia-Ukraine gas crisis. Fortunately, a crisis was avoided but not without renewed speculation and adverse commentary on the reliability of Russian gas (and oil) supplies. Our comment analyses the available details of the new agreement, looks at the advantages and disadvantages for both parties and assesses its durability.
                    [post_title] => The 2007 Russia-Belarus Gas Agreement
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            [post_date] => 2017-01-23 11:17:33
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            [post_content] => Since the OPAL pipeline started operating, more than five years ago, Gazprom has been unable to use more than 50 per cent of its capacity – even if such was not required by third parties – due to a regulatory cap imposed by the European Commission (EC) in June 2009. In October 2016 the EC adopted a new decision which removed the cap and attempted to strike a fine balance between the interests of all parties involved: while it allows Gazprom to bid for the remaining 50 per cent of OPAL capacity, it also guarantees that third parties will have access to at least 20 per cent, as Gazprom is not allowed to outbid them for that share. The decision manifests a (belated) recognition on the part of the EC that there was no rationale, rooted in the acquis, for maintaining the OPAL cap, which has become increasingly illogical and prone to criticisms of having being imposed on political grounds. Having recognised that politicisation threatens to undermine the credibility of the EU regulatory gas framework, the EC moved back into the comfort zone of rules-based regulatory decision-making, of which the October 2016 decision is an example. Poland’s legal challenge to this decision is an attempt to move in the opposite direction and risks creating a precedent in which political objectives are allowed to override regulatory rules.

As such the October 2016 decision signifies an important turning point in how Russian gas will be transported to Europe in the future. It could serve as an enabler for finding a new contractual arrangement between Gazprom and Naftogaz (with mediation from the EC) for continuing transit across Ukraine post-2019 once the existing contract expires, thus reducing the urgency for the construction of Nord Stream 2 and/or the Turkish/South Stream pipelines. However should either the decision or the arrangement with Naftogaz fail or be further delayed by legal proceedings, the opposite could be the case. In any event, the decision could serve as a guidance for future regulatory treatment of onshore extensions of any new Russian transit-diversification pipelines.

Executive Summary
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