Archive for January, 2009
The gas crisis continues. The situation is obviously very serious and needs to improve rapidly.”
Russia’s state gas monopoly accused Ukraine of blocking transit of Russian gas to Europe hours after supplies were restarted, extending the bitter energy crisis that left large parts of Europe cold and dark.
Gazprom began pumping gas into Ukraine shortly after 10 a.m. Moscow times (0700 GMT) 1-13-09, but four hours later Gazprom’s Deputy Chairman Alexander Medvedev said Ukraine’s pipeline system had failed to carry it on to Europe.
“Ukraine didn’t open any export pipelines,” Medvedev said in a call-in with reporters. “They just shut down the entry of the pipeline in the direction of the Balkans. We don’t have the physical opportunity to pump the gas to European customers.”
A Ukrainian official said the gas could not be transported to Europe because of technical reasons.
The information that we have from our monitors in Russia is that little or no gas is currently flowing and we are not at this stage jumping to conclusions as to why this is the case,” said another EU spokeswoman.
Russia supplies about one-quarter of the EU’s natural gas, 80 percent of it shipped through Ukraine’s 23 000 miles of pipes, and the disruption came as the continent was gripped by freezing temperatures in which at least 11 people have frozen to death.
The gas cutoff has affected more than 15 countries, with Bosnia, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Serbia and Slovakia among the worst hit. Sales of electric heaters have soared and thousands of businesses in eastern Europe have been forced to cut production or even shut down.
Russia stopped gas supplies to Ukraine on Jan. 1 amid a contract dispute, but continued sending gas to Europe across the Ukrainian territory until Jan. 7 when it fully halted shipments over alleged Ukrainian theft.
Ukraine’s efforts to join NATO and its support for the former Soviet republic of Georgia in its war with Russia in August 08 has angered the Kremlin.
The Nato radar base in Czech rep and missile base in Poland, together with Nato membership for Ukraine and Georgia is too much to tolerate for Russia.
In a sharp turnaround, the European Union blasted Russia and Ukraine, saying the sudden cutoff to some of its member countries was “completely unacceptable.” Just a day ago, the EU was trying to downplay any problems from the gas dispute.
Russian gas shipments via Ukraine to Hungary halted, Hungarian government said it would ask some power plants to switch to alternative fuel by Wednesday 1-7-9.
Energy dispute sharply escalated Tuesday 1-6-9, when six countries on the other end of the pipeline network running from Russia through Ukraine reported a complete shutoff.
Hungary, Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, Romania, Croatia and Turkey all reported a halt in gas shipments.
Bulgaria said it had enough gas for only “for a few days.”
Bulgaria’s President Georgi Parvanov said the country could start immediate preparations to relaunch Unit 3 of its Kozlodui nuclear power plant. The aging two 440-megawatt reactors were shut down two years ago.
Two cities in eastern Bulgaria, Varna and Dobrich, were left with no natural gas supplies on Tuesday 1-6-9. In Varna, on the Black Sea coast, the shortage left 12,000 households without central heating amid freezing temperatures.
Austria lost 90 percent of its normal Russian gas supplies on Tuesday1-6-9, about half its total supply. It said it had three months’ gas reserves but called an emergency meeting at its Economy Ministry
The Czech Republic and Hungary also reported significant supply drops. The Czech gas company RWE Transgas said it expects only 25 percent of its normal supplies Tuesday from Russia, while Hungary predicted its cut would be greater than the 20 percent it saw on Monday
Poland was considering limits on deliveries to heavy industry.
Speaking in Berlin, Alexander Medvedev, deputy chief executive of Russian energy giant OAO Gazprom, blamed Ukrainian state gas company Naftogaz Ukrainy for the shut-off. He told reporters Naftogaz had suddenly shut down the last of four transit pipelines.
A prolonged shut-off in such cold weather risked serious damage to the pipeline network, he added.
Naftogaz said Gazprom had suddenly stopped pumping transit gas via Ukraine on Wednesday morning. “It was the Russian side’s decision to stop all gas deliveries to Europe” Naftogaz head Oleh Dubina told reporters. “I think it is inappropriate.”
1-7-9 Poland and Bulgaria ordered chemical and other gas-intensive factories to cut back their consumption or shut down operations.
1-7-9 Hungarian unit of the Japanese automaker Suzuki said it was halting production because of restrictions on industrial users of gas.
Russia cut by two-thirds, 66%, gas flows to Europe via Ukraine on Tuesday 1-5-09 in a dramatic worsening of a pricing dispute with Kiev that threatened to disrupt supplies as far west as Italy and Germany.
Russian export monopoly Gazprom said it had supplied around 65 million cubic meters (mcm) to Europe on Tuesday 1-5-9 through ex-Soviet neighbor Ukraine, a fall of 78 percent from the 300 mcm it had been shipping since the dispute erupted on January 1, 09.
Bulgaria, Turkey, Macedonia, Greece and Croatia said flows of Russian gas via Ukraine had come to a halt, creating what Bulgaria called a “crisis situation” in the middle of winter.
Austria and Romania said deliveries were down 90 percent and 75 percent respectively.
Italy 7 million cubic meters on Tuesday, or less than 20 percent of the expected amount.
Ukraine’s government ordered regional utilities to start using fuel oil instead of gas.
Neighboring Slovakia will declare a state of emergency.
Serbia and Bosnia said Russian supplies had completely stopped.
France said supplies had plunged 70 percent although its economy is less vulnerable than Germany and Italy (getting only 20%) as 80 percent of France’s electricity is produced by nuclear energy.
“We are in a crisis situation,” Bulgaria’s Economy Ministry said. State firm Bulgargaz told industrial users it was suspending or cutting supplies to a minimum and urged them to switch to alternative fuels like oil. Two fertilizer companies had to halt production.
Russia’s state gas monopoly Gazprom accuse its Ukrainian counterpart of “stealing” gas and acting to damage the pipeline that transports 80 percent of Russia’s gas exports to Europe.
Last year, Ukraine paid on average $180 per thousand cubic meters of Russian gas, far below European rates, and Gazprom is demanding that it pay $418 for the same amount in the yet-to-be-concluded 2009 contract.
“The problem is that Ukraine is bankrupt, politically and economically,” says Konstantin Zatullin, deputy chair of the Russian State Duma’s commission on the Commonwealth of Independent States
Sergei Kupriyanov, a Gazprom spokesman, told journalists Ukraine has “stolen” some 25 million cubic meters of gas, passing on the shortfall to European customers.
Gazprom announced it will take its case against Ukraine to the Stockholm Arbitration Court, and appealed to the European Union to independently monitor Ukraine’s stewardship over the gas pipeline.
The dispute is overshadowed by the growing geopolitical schism between Moscow and Kiev, especially since Ukraine extended military assistance to Georgia during last summer’s
Ukraine pays Russia for its gas through as many as 12 intermediaries, making payments almost untraceable
Naftogaz director Oleh Dubina has said Ukraine has enough gas in reserve to last it through early April.
map of gas pipelines, Russia to Europe, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/telegraph/multimedia/archive/01216/GasEuropeCIS2008___1216869a.pdf