Croatia and UNDP help revitalize gas production in Ukraine by clearing land for explosive ordnance

March 14, 2024
Photo: Kseniia Nevenchenko / UNDP Ukraine

Kyiv, 14 March 2024 – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), along with the Ukrainian Ministry of Energy and UkrGasVydobuvannya, Ukraine's largest gas producer, recently completed an Explosive Ordnance risk assessment over 17 sq. kilometres in Kharkiv Oblast, formerly under Russian occupation. This initiative, financially backed by the Croatian Government, is pivotal for resuming gas exploration in the region. 

Before Russia's large-scale invasion, Kharkiv Oblast was responsible for nearly 40 percent of Ukraine's gas production. The invasion led to military occupation and heavy shelling of the area, severely disrupting operations. Despite the area's liberation, the resumption of gas extraction remains hindered in some zones due to potential mine contamination. A mine action risk assessment is an essential first step before beginning any projects in formerly occupied areas, especially those with a high likelihood of explosive ordnance contamination. 

Anica Djamić, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Croatia to Ukraine, said her country fully supports Ukraine’s efforts to secure energy independence by eliminating the threat posed by landmines. “By eliminating the pervasive threat of landmines, we can empower Ukraine to tap into its abundant natural resources,” she said. “This is not just about energy; it's about fortifying the nation's autonomy and future. Our support in mine clearance is a testament to our commitment to Ukraine's enduring stability and prosperity.”

Jaco Cilliers, UNDP Resident Representative in Ukraine, said the presence of landmines and other explosive ordnance both jeopardizes the safety of residents and profoundly hampers the nation's economic prosperity and energy security by rendering so much land off-limits. “We anticipate that reclaiming these territories will bolster regional economic growth and support Ukraine's pursuit of vital resources essential for the country's stability, security and development,” he said. 

Ukrainian Energy Minister Herman Galushchenko said Ukraine was concluding the heating season by meeting gas consumption needs with domestically produced gas. “This is crucial for furthering our energy independence,” Galushchenko said. “We must continue to increase extraction volumes. We thank our partners for supporting programs that enable our gas industry to safely explore and conduct further extraction activities in promising areas.”

Maksym Vityk, Head of Exploration and Development at UkrGasVydobuvannya, said the support from Croatia and UNDP comes at a critical time for Ukraine, and is having a profound impact. "This collaboration is transformative for our company,” Vityk said. “We can now expand our exploration horizons into previously uncharted territories, unveiling new geological discoveries that were once hidden beneath the shadow of war.”

Background information: Ukraine is now one of the world’s most heavily mine-contaminated countries. It’s estimated that about one-third of the country has been exposed to war—an area four and a half times the size of Switzerland. UNDP has worked with Ukraine’s government for 30 years and has led the UN’s mine action programme since 2016. UNDP is a lead partner supporting the State Emergency Services of Ukraine (SESU), ensuring that its operational and logistical backing through international funds and expertise translates to a more efficient response to the risks posed by explosive remnants of war. Under its financial contribution of $4.3 million to UNDP, Croatia is one of the donor partners of the UNDP Mine Action Programme.

Media enquiries: Yuliia Samus, Head of Communications, UNDP in Ukraine; e-mail: