Thursday, January 1, 2009

Russia turns off gas to Europe

NYTimes reports

MOSCOW — Gazprom, the Russian energy monopoly, shut the entire flow of natural gas intended for Ukraine’s domestic consumption Thursday morning after negotiations over prices and transit fees unraveled the day before.

“Gas deliveries in the Ukrainian direction were reduced by 90 million cubic meters per day,” Gazprom said in a statement carried by the Interfax news agency, or about the average daily consumption of the country of 46 million people which is at the peak of the winter heating season now.

Ukraine’s national energy company confirmed pressure in the country’s natural gas pipeline system had begun to drop Thursday morning, Reuters reported.

If the interruption continues, customers in Western Europe would likely experience shortages, since the same pipelines in Ukraine that are used for internal distribution are also used for export. That is a problem that has bedeviled Europe’s energy supplies from Russia for years.

About 80 percent of Russia’s gas exports to Europe go through Ukraine. In the statement Thursday, Gazprom said it was continuing to ship gas to Ukraine that was intended for re-export to Europe.

The transit of Russian natural gas across former Soviet states [...]

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