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

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Yearsi
X
December 18, 2014 5:13 PM
Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Putin: Russian Economy to Rebound in 2 Years

Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual end-of-the-year news conference Thursday, tackling questions on the Russian economy, the crisis in Ukraine and Russian relations with the west. VOA's Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8140
JPY
USD
118.81
GBP
USD
0.6402
CAD
USD
1.1597
INR
USD
63.066

Rates may not be current.