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
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine