How is the gas crisis affecting European countries?

http://www.petroleumworld.com/story09011507.htm

VIENNA
Petroleumworld.com, Jan 15, 2009

With much of Europe still suffering in the cold Wednesday due to the gas crisis, some of the affected countries said they were considering legal action.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso called on European gas companies to take legal action against Russia and Ukraine if gas deliveries to the European Union were not re-established as a matter of urgency.

The head of Serbian public gas supplier Srbijagas, Dusan Bajatovic, accused Ukraine of being the main culprit and said he was examining possible legal action against Kiev.

Already on Monday, Hungary’s gas supplier Emfesz said it had filed a complaint against Ukraine’s Naftogaz after Russia cut off supplies. It is seeking 30 million dollars (23 milion euros) in damages.

Russia cut supplies of European gas via Ukraine a week ago following a payments dispute between Naftogaz and Russian gas supplier Gazprom.

Here is a look at how the cuts are affecting various European countries:

AUSTRIA: Austria receives around 60 percent of its total gas from Russia. The government says it can guarantee the gas supply to households for three months and has not imposed any restrictions on use. Several gas-fired power stations have already switched to oil. Oil and gas giant OMV said it was not considering legal action for the time being and was only paying for the gas it actually received.

BOSNIA-HERCEGOVINA: Bosnia-Hercegovina is entirely independent on Russian gas and the Russia-Ukraine crisis left one third of the population deprived of heating. But the situation has been returning to to normal since Saturday due to deliveries from Germany. However, this may only last until Friday or Saturday when German company E.ON Ruhrgas will cease emergency supplies.

BULGARIA: Bulgarians were still in the cold Wednesday despite most heating stations in cities and towns switching to oil. Twenty-seven schools and a number of kindergartens remained shut because of the cold. Gas supplies to industry have already been rationed with more cuts expected in the coming days. Bulgarian premier Sergey Stanishev has left for “urgent” talks in Moscow and Kiev in an attempt to ensure supplies.

CROATIA: A state of emergency has not yet been lifted in Croatia as 40 percent of its gas imports come from Russia. The country is currently dependent on deliveries from Germany and Italy. Supplies to large industry have been cut with local reserves only able to keep the country going for another few weeks. Prime Minister Ivo Sanader said late Tuesday that negotiations were underway with gas exporters in North Africa.

CZECH REPUBLIC: Eighteen million cubic metres of gas is arriving daily from Norway and Germany to boost stocks. “For the next hours and days, we don’t see a problem that could restrict supplies to our customers in any way,” said RWE Transgas spokesman Martin Chalupsky. Despite facing a consumption increase of five million cubic metres because of the cold weather, the Czech Republic has committed itself to sending four million cubic metres to Slovakia.

FRANCE: National supplier Gaz de France says it cannot “hold on all winter like this” as the gas crisis lowers its supply by 15 percent and the cold spell sees demand spike 40 percent.

GERMANY: E.ON Ruhrgas, which receives its Russian supply via Belarus, continued with deliveries to Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina despite the cuts.

GREECE: Greece is expecting 135,000 cubic metres of liquified natural gas (which is equivalent to 80 million cubic metres or eight days of supplies of natural gas) from Gaz de France. Another boat-load of LNG is expected from Algeria on January 2. A source at public gas supplier DEP told AFP that Greece’s supply is secure for 22 days. The volume of Russian gas bought by Greece fell by 75 percent last year and accounts for only 7.5 percent of total energy usage.

HUNGARY: Hungary says it is “technically” ready to receive new deliveries from Russia via Ukraine. A total 8.2 million cubic metres arrived from Austria Wednesday for Hungary’s own needs and forward transmission to Bosnia-Hercegovina and Serbia. With Hungary relying on its reserves since the beginning of the crisis, restrictions remain for consumption above 2,500 cubic metres an hour.

ITALY: Deprived of the Russian gas that makes up 27 percent of its imports, Italy continues to draw on reserves that could last for up to two months. The government has also called for extraction from the Northern Adriatic Sea so as to diminish the country’s reliance on imports.

MACEDONIA: Only two major companies, steel maker Makstil and steel pipe maker 11 Oktombri have been forced to halt production as a result of the gas supply shortage, the economy ministry said.

MOLDOVA: Austria has offered Moldova electricity generators and large-scale heating generators after national gas reserves ran out Saturday. The situation is “approaching a catastrophe” in Transdniestr, with most of the breakaway region going without gas, communal heating services or hot water, according to Economy and Trade Minister Igor Dodon.

POLAND: Eighty-four percent of the country’s usual gas supplies from Russia via Belarus and these have been increased. Prime Minster Donald Tusk said the planned construction of an LNG terminal in Swinoujscie for supplies from Qatar and Kuwait would be “accelerated”. Poland is also planning to build new pipelines in Germany and Denmark, as well as a link with Austria’s Baumgarten terminal.

ROMANIA: Romania said its energy emergency measures remains in place. Before the crisis, the country imported daily 10 million cubic metres of Russian gas from a total consumption of 60 million. It has sufficient reserves to keep it going for between 60 and 80 days.

SERBIA: While emergency supplies from Germany and Hungary have helped normalise the situation, the Serbian authorities are optimistic that Russian supplies will restart by Thursday morning. They have ordered the switching of heating in urban areas to oil fuel.

SLOVAKIA: Bratislava has postponed its decision to re-open a Soviet-era nuclear reactor in a bid to avoid blackouts. The re-opening of the plant would breach conditions it agreed to when joining the EU and the European Commission has threatened legal action if Slovakia reneges on those promises. A state of emergency remains in place as gas reserves run low. The Czech Republic has pledged to deliver four million cubic metres, or 15 percent of Slovakia’s daily needs. Prime Minister Robert Fico was in Moscow Wednesday to discuss the situation.

SLOVENIA: Ljubljana is meeting domestic demand by drawing on its own reserves and supplies from Austria. Russian gas deliveries normally account for 60 percent of national supply.

TURKEY: To help compensate for the cut in deliveries of Russian gas via the Balkans, Russia has pumped more gas to Turkey via the Blue Stream pipeline, which runs under the Black Sea and links the two countries directly, increasing the amount from from 40 to 48 milllion cubic metres per day. Energy Minister Hilmi Guler has announced other measures including the use of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and gas stored in underground depots, with gas-fired power plants also switching to alternative fuels. Guler said the contingency measures wee proving “successful”. He was in Moscow Wednesday for talks with Russian officials on the crisis.

Story from AFP
AFP 01/14/2009 14:04 GMT

Copyright© 2008 respective author or news agency. All rights reserved.

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