News / Economy

Russia-Ukraine Standoff Prompts Energy Fears in Europe

Russia-Ukraine Standoff Prompts Energy Fears in Europei
X
March 05, 2014 3:40 AM
Gas prices have risen in Europe over fears the standoff between Russia and Ukraine could result in disruptions to supply -- and possibly undermine the continent’s economic recovery. But as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, it’s not the first time such a dispute has hit Europe’s energy supplies -- and this time officials say they’re now better-prepared.
Henry Ridgwell
Gas prices have risen in Europe over fears the standoff between Russia and Ukraine could result in disruptions to supply and possibly undermine the continent’s economic recovery. However, it’s not the first time such a dispute has hit Europe’s energy supplies -- and this time officials say they’re better prepared.
 
Russia supplies around a quarter of Europe’s gas. Ukraine sits between them both, so any potential for regional conflict has a direct effect on this vital energy supply line.
 
“The prices have risen in the traded market over the past couple of days because of anxiety about the availability of gas over both the medium and the long term,” said Simon Pirani, a senior research fellow at Britain's Oxford Institute for Energy Studies.
 
Ukraine itself is highly reliant on Russian gas. The Russian firm Gazprom says that beginning next month, it will raise the cost of gas it sells over the border. The Ukrainian state-owned firm Naftogaz owes Gazprom around $2 billion.
 
The European Commissioner for Energy, Gunther Oettinger, said Tuesday the EU would pay Ukraine’s gas bills, adding that there are no immediate concerns of shortages in Europe.
 
“At the moment, in member states, the gas situation is good. We’ve had a mild winter, our storage capacity is fuller than it was last year and we’ve got reserves everywhere,” said Oettinger.
 
In 2006 and in 2009, Russia cut off gas supplies to Ukraine over price disputes -- causing subsequent shortages in Europe. Cold winters and low stockpiles meant the gas price soared.
 
Europe is now less reliant on Ukraine as a transit route for Russian gas. The North Stream pipeline, which was opened in 2011, takes gas directly under the Baltic Sea to Germany -- Russia’s biggest European customer.
 
“There’s also been quite a lot of work done in central and eastern Europe as a result of the 2009 dispute when people realized that Russia-Ukraine disputes could have implications further down the pipeline,” said Pirani.
 
That includes the South Stream project. President Vladimir Putin attended an on-site ceremony as the first pipes were welded together in 2012. The pipeline will run along the bottom of the Black Sea directly to southeast Europe. It’s due to come online in 2015 and reach its full capacity -- roughly half of Europe’s demand -- by 2018.
 
But hostility between Moscow and Europe is growing over Russia’s apparent troop deployment in Crimea, which Moscow denies.
 
The EU has threatened as-yet unspecified sanctions. So would Russia retaliate by turning off the gas taps to Europe? Unlikely, thinks Pirani.
 
“Gazprom’s a commercial company, it has to make money, and it wants to deliver its gas to its customers in Europe,” said Pirani.
 
Analysts say the current tensions will likely make Europe redouble its efforts to find alternative energy supplies and cut its reliance on Russia.

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.9115
JPY
USD
123.92
GBP
USD
0.6554
CAD
USD
1.2443
INR
USD
63.800

Rates may not be current.