News / Economy

    Europe Fears Gas Shortages if Russia Cuts Off Ukraine

    Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk (L-R), France's President Francois Hollande, Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi meet ahead of a European leaders emergency summit on Ukraine in Brussels, March 6, 2014.
    Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk (L-R), France's President Francois Hollande, Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron, Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi meet ahead of a European leaders emergency summit on Ukraine in Brussels, March 6, 2014.
    Reuters
    European Union countries such as Poland and Greece are worried they may face gas shortages and economic damage if Russia stops pumping the fuel to Ukraine, with Kyiv facing a Friday deadline to pay Moscow a $2 billion energy bill.
     
    EU authorities on Monday convened an urgent session of the bloc's Gas Coordination Group, set up following previous energy disputes between Moscow and Kyiv, to assess contingencies “in case a major disruption takes place” following Russia's seizure of Ukraine's Crimea region, a document seen by Reuters shows.
     
    Click to enlargeClick to enlarge
    x
    Click to enlarge
    Click to enlarge
    Despite extreme tension between Moscow and Kyiv's new pro-Western government, Russian gas giant Gazprom has so far maintained supplies to Ukraine. The former Soviet republic is strategically important to Moscow as the main gas transit route to the European Union, Russia's biggest customer.
     
    But Russia has threatened to remove the discount Ukraine gets on the gas it receives for itself, and Kyiv is up against a March 7 deadline to pay an outstanding gas bill.
     
    Debt-laden Greece is particularly worried.
     
    “A disruption from Ukraine is the worst scenario for Greece,” its energy experts said in input to the meeting, adding that liquefied natural gas (LNG) capacity stood at 70 percent full and its next delivery was expected on March 14.
     
    Monday's 2-1/2-hour online debate showed EU nations were mostly amply supplied, but it was unclear how much they could ship back to Ukraine, which the meeting heard needed 15-35 million cubic meters (mcm) per day for domestic use.
     
    A spokeswoman for the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, could not immediately provide an estimate on how much of any shortfall the EU could cover.
     
    Mild winter
     
    A mild winter means storage in the 28-country European Union is about 5 billion cubic meters (bcm) above the level of 2012 and 10 bcm higher than in 2013, according to the document.
     
    That means a week-long cutoff could be managed, but a three-week outage, especially if the weather becomes cold, would strain supplies and drive up prices.
     
    For EU leaders, the bloc's energy costs - much higher than those in the United States - are a political flashpoint.
     
    Following previous gas price disputes between Russia and Ukraine, the EU has improved infrastructure, sought to diversify supply and increased requirements for member states to hold storage.
     
    In some cases, the improvements mean EU nations can send gas back to Ukraine if they have a surplus.
     
    The Commission asked Monday's meeting for precise details of how much gas EU member states could spare for Ukraine and EU neighbors most dependent on Russian supplies.
     
    Member states gave limited information. Romania said in the event of a fall in temperature, it could not help neighboring Bulgaria, one of the nations most dependent on Russian gas.
     
    Bulgaria is the one member of the bloc that did not take part in Monday's meeting. Its prime minister said on Wednesday the country was building up gas stocks.
     
    Poland, which neighbors Ukraine, said it could import any missing volumes via Belarus rather than Ukraine, but would need Gazprom's consent to divert the gas. Should Gazprom refuse, that could have a wider impact as pressure would fall in the pipeline network, making shipment difficult.
     
    However, together with Hungary and Austria, Poland could have some flexibility to help neighbors, the document said.
     
    Slovakia's potential to help Ukraine depends on a reverse-flow link, which the Commission has said is all but agreed, but has yet to be signed because of the turmoil in Ukraine.
     
    An EU source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Commission was working to get the reverse-flow arrangement finalized quickly. The source said it would take six months for gas to flow and the link could initially carry 6 bcm per year.
     
    Ukraine's annual gas demand stands at more than 50 bcm.

    You May Like

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    Factions Shift as Civilians Die in Syrian War

    Scenario likely only to further confuse military situation on ground and potentially worsen humanitarian crisis that already has grown to epic proportions

    Presidential Hopefuls Woo Minorities, Evangelicals

    Four GOP candidates to speak at forum at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    World Currencies

    EUR
    USD
    0.8869
    JPY
    USD
    112.70
    GBP
    USD
    0.6894
    CAD
    USD
    1.3922
    INR
    USD
    68.241

    Rates may not be current.