EU seeks ways to resolve Russian gas crisis 2009-01-10 14:03:37   Print

    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 mission.

    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

Russia sets 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

Editor: Chris
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