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

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid