National Joint-Stock Company Naftogaz of Ukraine has signed an agreement with a major international trader for guaranteed physical deliveries of about 450 million cubic meters (mcm) of gas in the first quarter (Q1) of 2020 to smoothly pass the forthcoming heating season.

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"Thanks to the developed European gas market, and despite the risk of gas transit interruption by Russia this coming winter, we have contracted the required volumes with physical delivery in Q1 2020. We have ensured the proper preparation for the coming heating season, injected additional gas volumes to our underground storage facilities [USFs], made our gas transmission system [GTS] ready for operation without transit, and contracted physical gas deliveries that do not depend on Gazprom's behavior. This gives us confidence that the winter season will be warm in Ukraine, whatever our northern counterparts may do," the company's press service quoted head of Naftogaz integrated gas business unit Andrew Favorov as saying on September 17.

Naftogaz is now considering several more offers from major European traders regarding gas supplies after the New Year and will use them if it is commercially justified, the press service added.

As UNIAN reported earlier, Naftogaz plans to have significantly higher gas reserves in the country's underground storage facilities by the forthcoming heating season, up to 20 billion cubic meters (bcm), to reduce negative consequences of a possible termination by Russia of its gas transit via Ukraine from January 1, 2020.

By the start of the 2018-2019 heating season, Ukraine had accumulated 17.2 bcm of gas in its underground storage facilities, which was a record high natural gas stock over the past six years.

Ukraine in 2018 reduced natural gas imports by 24.6%, or 3.46 bcm, from 2017, to 10.59 bcm.

In late November 2015, Ukraine stopped purchasing natural gas from Russia's Gazprom.