News / Europe

    Europe Less Reliant on Russian Gas through Ukraine

    Ukraine gas pipelines
    Ukraine gas pipelines
    Reuters
    A mild winter and improved infrastructure mean Europe and Ukraine are less reliant on Russian natural gas than in past years, easing worries that the escalating crisis in Ukraine could hurt supplies.
     
    Russia is Europe's biggest gas supplier, providing around a quarter of continental demand. Around a third of Russia's gas is exported through Ukraine, which itself also relies heavily on imports to meet its own demand.
     
    Fears for the stability of supply to Europe increased over the weekend when Russian forces took control of Ukraine's Crimea region and President Vladimir Putin said he had the right to invade his neighbor to protect Russians there after the overthrow of ally Viktor Yanukovych.
     
    Moscow has in the past cut supplies to Ukraine when negotiating prices with Kiev, causing shortages especially in central Europe, which gets most of its supplies from Russia.
     
    Russia's Gazprom said on Monday that gas transit to Europe via Ukraine was normal, but it warned that it might increase prices for Kiev after the first quarter, raising concerns that gas could be used for political leverage in the crisis.
     
    But analysts said a mild winter across Europe had left storage inventories unusually high, easing the impact of any potential supply cut.
     
    They also said improved gas infrastructure meant much of Russia's supplies could go to western Europe via alternative routes, such as the Nord Stream pipeline, which goes through the Baltic Sea to Germany, or through a pipeline that passes Belarus and Poland and also goes into Germany.
     
    “Low utilization means Ukraine's gas network is of lesser importance today than in the past,” Bernstein Research said on Monday in a research note.
     
    But analysts warned that a further improvement of the gas infrastructure was still needed.
     
    “Risks for Europe exist always, that is why it should pursue even more diversification projects further and develop liquefied natural gas [LNG] markets and new connectors in central and southeastern European regions,” said Anna Bulakh of the International Center for Defense Studies.
     
    To prepare for a potential disruption, Ukraine's gas transit monopoly Ukrtransgas has also been increasing its gas imports from Russia in recent days, upping its stocks which now stand at four months worth of supplies.
     
    Of Ukraine's 33 billion cubic meters (bcm) storage capacity, Gas Infrastructure Europe (GiE) data shows that around 80 percent is in its far west, so even in the case of a Russian intervention in Ukraine's predominantly Russian east, most storage assets would likely remain safe from seizure.

    Healthy Stocks
     
    After a mild winter, meteorologists expect early spring to bring warmer-than-usual conditions over most of Europe, implying weak gas demand will continue, adding to already high storage levels.
     
    A European Commission spokeswoman said that there was around 40 bcm of gas in the European Union's storage sites, equivalent to almost 10 percent of the bloc's total annual demand.
     
    “Europe is better prepared [than in the past,]” said Maria van der Hoeven,  Executive Director of the International Energy Agency [IEA] in Brussels.
     
    In Central Europe, which relies heavily on Russian supplies and was hard hit by previous cuts, Czech and Slovak inventories are filled between 35 and 45 percent, equivalent to 90 days of demand, and Polish reserves are at over 70 percent of capacity.
     
    In Austria, the chief executive of national oil and gas company OMV even said that the country had enough gas to meet half a year of demand.
     
    Hungary's gas stocks are lower, at roughly 22 percent of capacity, but because its inventory facilities are larger in volume, its reserves are still enough to meet almost two months' worth of demand.
     
    Serbian officals also said that its underground gas depots had enough gas to help bridge a potential disruption of supplies from Russia via Ukraine and Hungary.
     
    In Germany, Europe's biggest gas consumer and Russia's largest customer, inventories are more than 60 percent of capacity, equivalent to around 60 days of demand.
     
    Despite the healthy stocks across Europe, benchmark UK gas futures rose by almost 10 percent compared with last Friday's close, to over 61 pence per therm on Monday afternoon.

    You May Like

    US-Russia Tensions Complicate Syria War

    With a shared enemy and opposing allies, Russia and the US are working to avoid confrontation

    Video Re-opening Old Wounds in Beirut's Bullet-riddled Yellow House

    Built in neo-Ottoman style in 1920s, it is set to be re-opened in Sept. as ‘memory museum’ - bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity

    Cambodian-Americans Lobby for Human Rights Resolution

    Resolution condemns all forms of political violence in Cambodia, urges Cambodian government to end human rights violations, calls for respect of press freedom

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora