Ukraine winter season gas reserves rise to 18.8 bcm

KIEV, Sept 9 (Reuters) - Ukraine has stored 18.81 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas by Sept. 7 for the 2019/20 heating season that starts in mid-October, gas transport company Ukrtransgaz said on Monday.

The country had 15.05 bcm of gas in storage by the same time last year.

Ukraine, concerned about a possible fall in Russian gas transit this winter, plans to stockpile at least 20 bcm of gas for the coming heating season compared with 16.9 bcm it had stored for the previous cold period.

The Russia-Ukraine ten-year gas transit agreement is due to expire in January but the two sides have not started talks about a future deal yet.

Ukraine consumed 32.3 bcm of gas in 2018, 10.6 bcm of which was imported from European markets outside Russia.

Ukraine used to meet its gas needs with imports from Russia but has not bought Russian gas directly since November 2015 after Kiev’s relations with Moscow soured over Russia’s annexation of Crimea the previous year.

Meanwhile, during cold seasons, Ukraine continued to use some of the gas pumped by Russia to European consumers for its own needs and then compensated for this by deliveries from gas storage located in the west of the country.

More than a third of Russia’s gas exports to the European Union cross Ukraine. (Reporting by Natalia Zinets, editing by Louise Heavens)