EU bemoans Russia gas cuts amid devastating cold snap | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 03.02.2012
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EU bemoans Russia gas cuts amid devastating cold snap

The European Commission has confirmed a drop in Russian gas supplies in nine countries as freezing weather conditions continue to grip Europe. Russian gas giant Gazprom has denied any cuts in its deliveries.

Gazprom logo

Gazprom says it has increased its gas supply to Europe

The European Commission put its gas coordination committee on alert on Friday after confirming that Russian gas deliveries to at least nine countries had fallen by up to 30 percent. The Commission insisted, however, the situation had not yet reached an emergency level.

Marlene Holzer, a spokeswoman for EU energy commissioner Guenther Oettinger, confirmed drops in supplies in Austria , Bulgaria , Germany , Greece , Hungary , Italy , Poland , Romania and Slovakia .

She said that the state-owned giant Gazprom was making use of flexibility clauses in its contracts as "there is exceptionally cold weather, and Russia needs more gas (for its own use) than normal."

Gazprom asserted on Thursday, however, that it had increased deliveries through a Ukrainian pipeline in response to a higher demand from EU states, implying that Naftogaz, the Ukrainian gas company, has been tapping into gas destined to Europe - a claim made by Moscow in recent winters. The Ukrainian gas company has denied the claims.

A frozen Lake in Belgrade

Europe is experiencing a particularly harsh cold snap

Ukrainian Fuel and Energy Minister Yuri Boiko said Russia was shipping around 15 percent less than usual because of increased domestic consumption due to abnormally low temperatures.

“We are taking gas in strict compliance with the contract, but because it isn't coming from Russia , of course it isn't reaching Europe ,” Boiko said, according to his office.

Gazprom on Friday insisted it was fulfilling all of its contracts. "Now these obligations are being carried out, but the customers are asking for larger volumes than we are obliged to supply to them," the head of pricing at Gazprom Export Sergei Komlev was quoted as saying.

The whole of Europe has been caught in the grasp of a Siberian cold snap for around a week, which has already caused over 220 deaths. Weather forecasters say there is no end to the cold spell in sight.

sb/ccp (AFP, AP, Reuters)