Tuesday, January 13, 2009
The Russian state controlled natural gas monopoly Gazprom, cut off gas to Europe for six days during one of the coldest winters Europeans have experienced for generations. Then they opened up the pipeline for six hours after repeated pleas from diplomats representing the EU.
However, after four hours the Russians shut off the pipeline. The reasons to why they stopped the flow of gas, was that it was the fault of the Ukraine that had failed to open their export pipelines. Russian president went so far as to claim that America was responsible for the Ukraine actions, but the president of the Ukraine,Viktor Yushekenko, accused Russia of using the gas dispute to wrest control of Ukraine 23,000 mile gas pipeline.
The fact that Russia shipped the gas not through the normally used pipeline, but shipped it through a technically arduous rout that would have requires the Ukraine to cut off gas to their domestic customers before it could deliver gas to the Balkans,
Russia supplies about one-quarter of the EU’s natural gas, 80 percent of it shipped through Ukraine’s vast pipeline network. Amid a pricing dispute with Ukraine, Russia cut off gas supplies to Europe on Jan. 7 just as the continent was gripped by freezing temperatures.
The gas cutoff has affected more than 15 countries, with Bosnia, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Serbia and Slovakia among the worst hit. Sales of electric heaters have soared and thousands of businesses in eastern Europe have been forced to cut production or even shut down. Millions of people have been affected by the heating crisis or involuntary layoffs. Sounds to me like the effect that the Berlin Wall had on people East of the Wall, and had it not been for the USA airlift many Germans would have staved to death.
EU officials say the crisis should encourage a search for independent energy sources and supply routes, such as the U.S.-backed Nabucco pipeline via Turkey that would carry Caspian energy to Europe and circumvent Russia. It sounds like the approach that the USA needs to reduce our dependence on OPEC! Windmills that freeze during severe cold weather and solar power during winter is a poor substitute!
Carnegie Endowment’s Moscow office said the dispute will push the EU toward finally “creating a European gas market” that would reduce Russia’s clout as an energy supplier. The EU will also have to reconsider the options of nuclear and coal-fired plants.
Russia stopped gas supplies to Ukraine itself on Jan. 1, and Russia said it still will not send natural gas to Ukraine for domestic consumption until the deadlock is resolved over what Ukraine should pay for Russian gas in 2009 and what Russia should pay for using Ukraine’s pipelines.
Ukraine last year paid $179.50 per 1,000 cubic meters of gas and Yushchenko said Tuesday that Ukraine will pay no more than $210 in 2009. Russia wants Ukraine to pay market price for gas, about the $450 that European customers pay.
Source: Vladimir Isachenkov @ Yahoo News