Russia gas disruption bites in Europe

Russia halted gas supplies via Ukraine to the Balkans, Turkey and south-eastern Europe today and flows to EU-member state Austria dropped by 90 per cent in a deepening price row between Moscow and Kiev.

Russia and Ukraine blamed each other for the crisis which has struck at a time of unusually low winter temperatures across Europe, which receives about one quarter of its gas from Moscow.



The dispute threatens to worsen ties with the West already fraught after Russia's war with Georgia last year.



Europe receives about one fifth of its gas from Russia via Ukraine, leaving European customers vulnerable when Moscow reduced volumes to Ukraine on New Year's Day after failing to reach agreement with Kiev over gas prices.



Austria is a distribution hub which directs Russian gas to Germany and central Europe. "At the moment only around 10 per cent of Russia gas is being delivered," Austrian oil and gas group OMV said in a statement.



Russia and Ukraine - which have clashed repeatedly over the ambition of Kiev's pro-Western leaders to join Nato - blamed each other for the disruption.



The head of Ukraine's state energy firm Naftogaz Oleh Dubyna said Russia had probably decided to stop all gas supplies to Europe via Ukraine. That could jeopardise supplies to countries including Germany, Europe's biggest economy.



Alexander Medvedev, deputy CEO of Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom told reporters in London that Kiev had shut down three or four export pipelines overnight. He said the company was a "hostage of irresponsible behaviour" by Kiev.



Gazprom says it usually exports about 300 mcm of gas per day to Europe via Ukraine during the winter while Ukraine consumes about 100 mcm. The latest news of pipeline shutdowns suggests exports via Ukraine running at below 100 mcm, which could mean shortages in Europe in a day or so.







The disruptions come at a bad time for Europe, which is experiencing a cold snap likely to drive up gas demand. Temperatures in Bulgaria fell below minus 15 degrees Celsius overnight.



The dispute was also cited as a factor behind a rise in gas prices traded in London today.



Bulgaria's government called a crisis meeting after Bulgarian officials said flows had been halted along a pipeline spur that also supplies Turkey, Macedonia and Greece.



Croatia said its flows were halted too.



Bulgaria is particularly vulnerable to the disruptions because, unlike Greece and Turkey, it has no access to alternative gas supply routes.



Bulgarian fertiliser producer Neochim halted production after its gas suppliers were stopped.



"As of 3.30am supplies ... to Bulgaria as well as the transit to Turkey, Greece and Macedonia have been suspended," Bulgaria's Economy Ministry said in a statement. "We are in a crisis situation."



A delegation from the Czech presidency of the European Union met Ukrainian officials in Kiev, while talks between Gazprom and the EU were planned for later today in Berlin.



"The situation (with gas supplies via Ukraine to central Europe) ...is getting worse by the minute and we would like to talk about this new situation," Czech Industry Minister Martin Riman told reporters in Kiev.



Most larger EU countries say they have large amounts of gas stockpiled after several mild winters, and have access to supplies from sources such as Norway and Algeria.



The conflict between Moscow and Kiev, now in its sixth day, escalated dramatically yesterday when Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin ordered Gazprom to cut deliveries of gas to Europe via Ukraine by about one sixth - the same amount Moscow accused Kiev of siphoning off.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee