Trafigura Group stored some natural gas in Ukraine’s underground sites to re-export back to Europe when prices rise.

“Trafigura was one of the few companies to inject gas into Ukraine storage,” the trading house said in its financial report published Friday. While Ukraine has said European traders have used its vast gas-storage sites this year, it has avoided naming the companies citing security reasons. 

Even with war risks, traders and utilities were transferring gas from Moldova and the European Union to store it in Ukraine before the heating season to take advantage of relatively-low storage fees and cheaper summer gas prices. 

Ukraine offered foreign companies at least 10 billion cubic meters of its underground storage facilities — roughly a third of the country’s capacity left from the Soviet era — and more than 3.2 billion cubic meters of the fuel were stored in seven months through October, according to Ukraine’s grid. That’s 4.5 times more than in the same period in 2022.

It’s small in comparison to the EU’s storage capacities which are about 100 billion cubic meters and were 100% full by early November — well ahead of the region’s target. 

Trafigura didn’t disclose its volumes, but added that it has also expanded gas operations in EU member states close to Ukraine. Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Austria used to heavily rely on Russian gas before the war and some still receive the fuel even after supply cuts.

The trading house said European gas prices are still at risk of high volatility next year even though the market has calmed down significantly. 

“Although 2023 brought a gradual softening of gas and power prices in Europe on the back of a mild winter, lower demand and increased LNG imports, we expect markets to remain turbulent and prone to spikes in 2024,” it said.