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

Turkey's Erdogan: Women Not Equal to Men

Speaking at conference in Istanbul, President Erdogan says Islam has defined a position for women: motherhood More

Ahead of SAARC Summit, Subdued Expectations

Some regional analysts say distrust between Pakistani, Indian officials has slowed SAARC's progress over the year More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8048
JPY
USD
118.04
GBP
USD
0.6382
CAD
USD
1.1270
INR
USD
61.892

Rates may not be current.