EU faces energy crunch over Russian gas


Russian gas supplies to Europe and Turkey have more than halved from regular volumes after Ukraine shut all export pipelines, despite increased supplies via alternative routes, a senior Gazprom official said.

Alexander Medvedev, Gazprom's deputy chief executive, said today gas supplies to the European Union and Turkey were running at around 200 million cubic metres (mcm) a day, compared with the usual 430 mcm.

However, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said today Russia and Ukraine are ready to accept the deployment of international monitors checking the flow of Russian gas destined for the European Union through Ukraine.

"We have received assurances from both ... that they are ready to accept international monitors," Mr Barroso told a news conference after meeting Czech prime minister Mirek Topolanek, whose country holds the EU presidency.

The Russian gas monopoly's dispute with Ukraine over debts and pricing has led to a complete stoppage of exports via its neighbour. Gazprom blames Ukraine for closing export pipelines, while Kiev accuses Moscow of not delivering gas.

"We cannot ship gas toward Ukraine. They (Ukraine) say we are not sending gas, but we haven't got the physical capacity after they shut down all pipelines and closed compressor stations," Medvedev said.

Gazprom usually supplies around 300 mcm per day to Europe via Ukraine, another 80-90 mcm via the Yamal-Europe pipeline to Poland and Germany and around 35-40 mcm to Turkey via the Blue Stream pipeline during winter periods.

Medvedev said exports via alternative routes had increased.

"Yamal-Europe and gas storages are giving us some 150 mcm and we hope to increase the offtake from storages by another 10 mcm per day by the end of today," he said.

He said Gazprom's Blue Stream pipeline, which runs under the Black Sea to Turkey, was working at its full capacity of 48 mcm.

Russian gas supplies toward Ukraine were still running at 40 mcm a day, but Kiev was not exporting these volumes and was keeping them for domestic needs, Medvedev said.