BRUSSELS, Jan. 9 (Xinhua) -- The European Union (EU) sought ways on Friday
to resolve the current gas supply crisis as Russian gas to Europe via Ukraine
remained cut off due to a deadlock over a monitoring mission.
Under the framework of the EU's gas coordination group, energy experts from
the 27 member states and industry representatives met in Brussels on Friday to
discuss the impact of the crisis and evaluate each country's situation.
"The extent of the current crisis is unprecedented in European history,"
they said in a statement.
All Russian gas supplies to Europe via Ukraine were shut down on Wednesday
as a row between Russia and Ukraine escalated, creating a supply crisis for a
number of EU countries. Factories have been forced to shut down, schools to
close, and thousands of people left without gas for heating.
Among the 27 EU member states, Bulgaria and Slovakia were the most affected
due to their heavy dependence on Russian gas. Bulgaria's gas storage will only
last for a few days, and Slovakiaa few weeks. Both have introduced consumption
limits for industry.
Other countries affected are Greece, Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovenia,
Hungary, Poland, Romania and Croatia. But they will still be able to manage for
a certain period of time
The third group -- Germany, Italy and France have been able to take
necessary measures and have a manageable situation.
With no final deal yet on the gas monitoring mission, Russian gas shipments
through Ukraine to Europe remained suspended late on Friday.
Although the European Commission declared that an agreement on the details
of the monitoring mission had been achieved, it later proved to be too
optimistic as Russia and Ukraine continued to dispute the composition of the
Russian gas monopoly Gazprom's CEO Alexei Miller had pledged to start
pumping gas to Europe again once the monitors were in place at all eight Russian
gas transit points in Ukraine. However, Russia has insisted that the monitoring
mission should include Russian experts.
A spokesman from Ukraine's state-owned gas company Naftogaz said they were
"not against" Russian monitors in the international monitoring mission, raising
questions over which side is blocking the deal.
Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, whose country holds the EU rotating
presidency, was in Kiev to discuss specific details of the functioning of the EU
monitoring group and to make sure the observers were deployed immediately, but
he apparently failed in his quest.
A Russian government spokesman said Topolanek would travel to Moscow to
meet Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Saturday.
With no immediate breakthrough in sight, the EU is seeking ways to overcome
the severe gas shortage.
As a short-term measure, EU energy experts called for a maximum increase in
production in Norway, the Netherlands, Britain, Romania and Poland to compensate
for the loss of Russian gas.
"The Netherlands said it could increase its production by 10 percent in two
weeks," the experts said.
Another proposal is to increase withdrawal from gas storages to the maximum
limit, which many EU countries have already been forced to do.
Some EU countries have also implemented fuel switching, replacing gas with
other energy sources.
EU energy experts said the current crisis showed the need for the quick
implementation of mid- to long-term measures, such as improving
interconnectivity between member states, diversifying energy sources and
increasing investment in storage.
In response to the situation, EU energy ministers are due to hold an
extraordinary meeting in Brussels on Monday.
EU calls for
production hike amid gas crisis
BRUSSELS, Jan. 9 (Xinhua) -- European Union (EU) energy experts urged
European producers on Friday to hike production as Russian gas supplies to
Europe via Ukraine remained cut-off.
"The extent of the current gas
crisis is unprecedented in European history," energy experts from the 27 EU
member states said in a statement after a meeting with industry representatives
under the framework of the EU's gas coordination group on Friday in Brussels.Full story
conditions to resume gas flows to Europe via Ukraine
MOSCOW, Jan. 9 (Xinhua) -- Russia's state gas
monopoly Gazprom said it would resume supplies to Europe via Ukraine on Friday
if an agreement allowing a EU-led monitoring team to track gas flows through
Ukraine was signed. Full story