Russia has scorched all rumours that it is going to block gas to the European Customers. It was Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk who charged Russia of a plan to halt gas flows to Europe in the coming winter. Denying the charge, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak called it baseless, Reuters reported.
No Politics On Gas Supply
The Russian energy minister made it clear that it will put forth "maximum efforts" to fulfil gas obligations to European importers, regardless of political issues. He sounded Russia's willingness to engage in an open, constructive dialogue with all customers and partners including Ukraine.
However, Russia has a history of halting gas flows to Ukraine, which is the major transit route for its EU customers. Russia stopped supplies to Ukraine in 2006, 2009 and recently in June following disputes with Kiev on gas pricing.
Minister Novak also called Yatseniuk's comment an attempt to intentionally mislead European consumers. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also said Russia is a reliable supplier of natural gas to Europe. He hoped Ukraine will guarantee its unhindered transit.
Plan B in Place
However, EU officials said they do not expect Russia to cut off supplies to EU customers, which constitutes to 80 per cent of Gazprom's gas sales. In the case of any emergency, other options will be put in place.
European Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said on Wednesday that a Plan B for a worst-case scenario is ready, but EU is not expected to use it.
The European and Ukrainian power and gas providers have been injecting as much gas as possible to their storage anticipating the spring and summer seasons.
The Ukraine PM Yatseniuk said his government has amassed 15 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas in storage and will boost the storage to 25 bcm. Europe has 16.52 bcm (31.2 per cent) more gas in its reserves compared to last year. This was stated by Energy Aspects, a research firm.
Despite the storage of gas, absence of alternative supply sources can trouble Ukraine and many European countries in coping with winter, which will see gas cuts without large-scale disruptions, the analysts said.