Ukraine in the Pan-European Natural Gas System
with Per Hogselius (KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm)
Tuesday, December 6
1:00 pm ET / 12:00 pm CT
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Please join us for another lecture in this year’s Ukrainian Energy Studies series. The Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022 has confirmed not only the centrality of energy to the war, but also the importance of Ukraine to global energy policy, with its far-reaching economic, environmental, and cultural consequences. This interdisciplinary series, co-organized by the Jordan Center for the Advanced Study of Russia at NYU and the East European, Russian, Caucasian, and Central Asian Faculty Network at the University of Colorado Boulder, will explore the concept of energy as a shaping force in Ukrainian cultural and political history; the aesthetics of particular energy sources (fossil fuels, nuclear energy, renewables) in Ukrainian literature, film, and other media; the Russia-Ukraine energy nexus; Ukrainian energy markets; and environmental effects of energy production, consumption, and catastrophe. This series is co-sponsored by the Jordan Center at NYU and the Departments of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures, History, Geography, and Political Science, as well as the International Affairs Program at the University of Colorado Boulder.
This talk will reconstruct the complex historical process through which Ukraine became one of the most important countries in the pan-European natural gas system. The story starts already in the Interwar years, when the first pipelines were built – on Polish soil that subsequently became western Ukraine. In the years around 1960 intense extraction made western Ukrainian natural gas available to Moldova, the Baltic republics, Belarus and Russia – including Moscow. From 1967 new pipelines enabled western Ukrainian gas to be exported to Czechoslovakia and soon afterwards to Austria as well. When western Ukrainian gas showed signs of depletion, new gas finds in eastern Ukraine ensured that the Ukrainian SSR continued to play a key role in the rapidly growing Soviet gas system. Unfortunately, the Soviet gas industry faced endless problems when it came to actually extracting sufficient volumes of gas. Seeking to cope with scarcity, Moscow then opted to prioritize exports to Western Europe over the supply of gas to Ukraine itself, leading to repeated local gas crises in Ukraine, of which West European stakeholders remained unaware. In terms of exports, however, the rise of Siberian gas from around 1980 gradually transformed Ukraine from a gas supplier to a gas transit country. By the end of the Cold War era nearly all Soviet gas exports – and these amounted to increasingly vast volumes – were transited through Ukraine. The story builds on archival research in Russia, Ukraine, Germany and Austria.
This event will be hosted virtually as a Zoom meeting.
Per Högselius is Professor of History of Technology and International Relations at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm. He holds a MSc in Engineering Physics, a PhD in Innovation Studies and a Docent (Habilitation) degree in History of Science and Technology. His teaching and research spans the history of energy in its multiple forms, natural resources, and technological infrastructures, with a particular focus on transnational aspects. His English-language publications include Red Gas: Russia and the Origins of European Energy Dependence (2013), Europe’s Infrastructure Transition: Economy, War, Nature (co-authored with Arne Kaijser and Erik van der Vleuten, 2016), and Energy and Geopolitics (2019). In Sweden he is also active as an author of popular science books and essays. He currently leads the ERC project NUCLEARWATERS: Putting Water at the Centre of Nuclear Energy History (2018-2023).