'Gas War' Between Gazprom And Belarus

The European Commission has called an emergency meeting.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said the disputes over gas payment debts between Russian state-run oil giant Gazprom and Belarus have turned into a 'gas war'.

"Unfortunately this conflict has turned into a gas war between Gazprom and Belarus," Lukashenko said at a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Belarus refuses to pay the Russian gas price, set at $169 per 1,000 cubic meters for the first quarter of the year and $185 for the second quarter, and has been paying $150 since January 1 instead.

Gazprom decreased its gas supplies to Belarus by 15% on Monday over the $200 million debt Minsk has accumulated since the start of the year. Supplies were further cut to 30% on Tuesday.

lukashenkaBelarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said he has put gas transit to Europe through Belarusian territory on hold until Russian energy giant Gazprom pays for the use of Belarusian pipelines.

"Until we are paid for the last six months, gas transit will not continue," Lukashenko said at a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

"Gazprom ows us $260 million, which includes transit in May," Lukashenko said.

He added that Gazprom knows about its debt and admits it.

"We owe them $190 million, and they [Gazprom] owe us $260 million. It is absurd that we are not paying off this debt," the president said.

The European Commission has called an emergency meeting over the Russia-Belarus gas dispute, which threatens gas supplies to Europe, a Commission spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

Marlene Holzner said the European Commission would hold a working meeting with the Belarusian side, adding that Minsk had notified Brussels of possible gas transit disruptions.
 

> Major Gas Pipelines of the Former Soviet Union and Capacity of Export Pipelines
 
Russia's state-controlled gas monopoly Gazprom decreased its gas supplies to Belarus by 15% on Monday over a $200 million debt Minsk has accumulated since the start of the year. Cuts were increased to 30% on Tuesday.

Holzner said earlier on Tuesday Russian gas cuts to Belarus may affect 6.25% of EU consumption volumes.

Russia's gas disputes with its neighbors often cause concern in the rest of Europe

In January 2009, a halt in supplies to Ukraine led to gas shortages in the rest of Europe (especially Eastern Europe) during a winter cold snap.

Belarus, like Ukraine, is a transit nation for the rest of Europe, although Minsk's importance is far smaller than Kiev's in this role. Roughly one tenth of Europe's gas needs go through Belarus, and about one fifth of Germany's.

Over one third of Germany's natural gas is provided by Russia, Austria gets half its gas from there, while Bulgaria and Hungary receive 95 per cent and 90 per cent, respectively.

Gazprom says that lower energy usage during the summer months, coupled with the possibility of rerouting gas through Ukrainian pipes if the dispute with Belarus escalates, should mean that these cutbacks will not impact supplies to the rest of Europe.
 

World media monitoring
 

 

 

 
23.06.2010
 
 

Bookmark/Search this post with
ARTICLE CATEGORIES