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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7866
JPY
USD
109.25
GBP
USD
0.6139
CAD
USD
1.1120
INR
USD
61.428

Rates may not be current.