January 06, 2009

Gas Tussle


Sometimes it can be hard to get at the facts. And given that the western media went way down the wrong road on the recent Georgian crisis, one is inclined to be skeptical of coverage on the current Russia-Ukraine gas spat. Here is a nice summary of the facts by Reuters:

(Reuters) - A contract dispute between Russia and Ukraine has disrupted gas supplies to countries in the European Union, which gets about a fifth of its needs via pipelines through Ukraine.

WHY DID THE ROW START?

Russia and Ukraine failed to agree a new contract for gas supplies in 2009 before a New Year's Eve deadline set by Russian negotiators.

Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom said during the talks it wanted to raise the price it charged Kiev from $179.5 to $250. Kiev said it did not want to pay that, and made any price rise conditional on Gazprom paying more for pumping gas to Europe across Ukrainian territory.

WHY IS THERE LESS GAS GOING TO EUROPEAN CONSUMERS?

Gazprom cut off all gas for Ukraine's domestic use on New Year's day. This is not as simple as it sounds: Ukraine's gas, goes through the same network of pipelines as the gas intended for customers in Europe.

So what Russia did was to reduce the total volumes it was pumping by the amount Ukraine imports. That meant a reduction from the usual 400 million cubic meters a day to about 300 mcm/day.

What happened next is under dispute. Russia accused Ukraine of stealing gas intended for Europe, and using it for its own needs. On Monday, it cut gas supplies going through Ukraine further, by about one sixth. It said this was equivalent to the amount Kiev was siphoning off. On Tuesday, Gazprom accused Kiev of unilaterally shutting down at least three major export pipelines.

Ukraine has a different account of events. It denied siphoning off gas, saying only it had used some gas intended for export to maintain pressure in the pipeline network.

It accused Russia of deliberately halting exports, putting under threat supplies to Moldova, Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, Turkey, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Germany.

HOW DOES THE GAS GET ACROSS UKRAINE TO EUROPE?

Over 80 percent of Russia's gas exports to the European Union go via Ukraine.

There is a complex network of pipelines, but put simply there are two main routes. One goes West through Slovakia and from there to the Czech Republic, Austria, Germany, France, Italy and other countries.

The second goes south to the Balkans and south-eastern Europe -- the regions worst hit by the supply disruptions.

The Balkan pipeline is more vulnerable to the cuts of Russian supplies because there are no gas storage facilities at the inlet of the export route.

Pipelines running from Ukraine into Slovakia are linked to the huge underground gas storage facilities of Western Ukraine, therefore supplies are more secure.

In addition to these routes, there are separate pipelines from Ukraine to Hungary, Poland and Romania.

WHAT ABOUT OTHER GAS PIPELINES TO EUROPE?

Russia said it was compensating for reductions in exports to Europe by pumping gas through alternative routes. But it was not clear these routes had the capacity to cover the shortfall. These are the other routes:

YAMAL-EUROPE - Goes from Siberia via Belarus to Poland and Germany, Europe's biggest economy. Capacity 33 bcm/year or around 100 mcm per day. Gazprom has increased exports through Yamal to help compensate for lower flows through Ukraine.

BLUE STREAM - Goes from Russia along the bed of the Black Sea to Turkey. Capacity 16 bcm/year or around 50 mcm per day. Gazprom says it was also adding capacity through the Blue Stream pipeline.
 
Like this post? Get a weekly email digest + member-only deals

Some of Our Books

The Best of Russian Life

The Best of Russian Life

We culled through 15 years of Russian Life to select readers’ and editors’ favorite stories and biographies for inclusion in a special two-volume collection. Totalling over 1100 pages, these two volumes encompass some of the best writing we have published over the last two decades, and include the most timeless stories and biographies – those that can be read again and again.
The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas

The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas

This exciting new trilogy by a Russian author – who has been compared to Orhan Pamuk and Umberto Eco – vividly recreates a lost world, yet its passions and characters are entirely relevant to the present day. Full of mystery, memorable characters, and non-stop adventure, The Pet Hawk of the House of Abbas is a must read for lovers of historical fiction and international thrillers.  
The Little Golden Calf

The Little Golden Calf

Our edition of The Little Golden Calf, one of the greatest Russian satires ever, is the first new translation of this classic novel in nearly fifty years. It is also the first unabridged, uncensored English translation ever, and is 100% true to the original 1931 serial publication in the Russian journal 30 Dnei. Anne O. Fisher’s translation is copiously annotated, and includes an introduction by Alexandra Ilf, the daughter of one of the book’s two co-authors.
Maria's War: A Soldier's Autobiography

Maria's War: A Soldier's Autobiography

This astonishingly gripping autobiography by the founder of the Russian Women’s Death Battallion in World War I is an eye-opening documentary of life before, during and after the Bolshevik Revolution.
The Samovar Murders

The Samovar Murders

The murder of a poet is always more than a murder. When a famous writer is brutally stabbed on the campus of Moscow’s Lumumba University, the son of a recently deposed African president confesses, and the case assumes political implications that no one wants any part of.
The Latchkey Murders

The Latchkey Murders

Senior Lieutenant Pavel Matyushkin is back on the case in this prequel to the popular mystery Murder at the Dacha, in which a serial killer is on the loose in Khrushchev’s Moscow...
Bears in the Caviar

Bears in the Caviar

Bears in the Caviar is a hilarious and insightful memoir by a diplomat who was “present at the creation” of US-Soviet relations. Charles Thayer headed off to Russia in 1933, calculating that if he could just learn Russian and be on the spot when the US and USSR established relations, he could make himself indispensable and start a career in the foreign service. Remarkably, he pulled it of.
Murder at the Dacha

Murder at the Dacha

Senior Lieutenant Pavel Matyushkin has a problem. Several, actually. Not the least of them is the fact that a powerful Soviet boss has been murdered, and Matyushkin's surly commander has given him an unreasonably short time frame to close the case.
Fish: A History of One Migration

Fish: A History of One Migration

This mesmerizing novel from one of Russia’s most important modern authors traces the life journey of a selfless Russian everywoman. In the wake of the Soviet breakup, inexorable forces drag Vera across the breadth of the Russian empire. Facing a relentless onslaught of human and social trials, she swims against the current of life, countering adversity and pain with compassion and hope, in many ways personifying Mother Russia’s torment and resilience amid the Soviet disintegration.
22 Russian Crosswords

22 Russian Crosswords

Test your knowledge of the Russian language, Russian history and society with these 22 challenging puzzles taken from the pages of Russian Life magazine. Most all the clues are in English, but you must fill in the answers in Russian. If you get stumped, of course all the puzzles have answers printed at the back of the book.
Russia Rules

Russia Rules

From the shores of the White Sea to Moscow and the Northern Caucasus, Russian Rules is a high-speed thriller based on actual events, terrifying possibilities, and some really stupid decisions.

About Us

Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.

Latest Posts

Our Contacts

Russian Life
PO Box 567
Montpelier VT 05601-0567

802-223-4955