Wed, Jan 14, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Russia says Ukraine still blocking EU gas shipment

AGENCIES , MOSCOW AND SUDZHA, RUSSIA

Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom said yesterday that Ukraine had blocked shipments of Russian gas to Europe.

“This morning Gazprom began realizing its plan to restore gas deliveries to Europe. Ukraine blocked all our actions,” the company’s deputy chief, Alexander Medvedev, was quoted by news agency Interfax as saying. “This is a violation of all our previous agreements. Under such conditions, we cannot physical carry out gas transit via Ukrainian territory.”

Russia resumed supplies of gas to Europe at 10am yesterday after observer teams were in place to measure gas under an EU-brokered deal between Moscow and Kiev, who blame each other for the disruptions of supplies to Europe.

Ria-Novosti news agency quoted an anonymous observer as saying the pressure had risen greatly at the Russian Sudzha gas compressor station, but was “zero” entering Ukrainian pipelines.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev had given Gazprom the go-ahead to again cut supplies if it believed Ukraine was siphoning off gas meant for Europe.

Moscow and Kiev have not yet resolved the contractual dispute that sparked the crisis on Jan. 1, meaning none of yesterday’s gas flows were to supply Ukraine.

The row, which left EU countries struggling to find energy supplies as temperatures dropped below freezing, is still not fully resolved.

Even before the Russian taps were opened, some Russian officials warned of delays in Ukraine.

“As soon as we start pumping the gas at the entry point, it should appear at the exit point,” Gazprom’s Sergei Kupriyanov said in a statement ahead of the opening.

Kupriyanov said there was still gas in the pipelines even though supply had been completely cut off since last Wednesday, and that this should ensure that gas supplies flow more quickly.

“Comments by Ukraine that 36 hours are needed from the arrival of transit gas from Russia into Ukraine’s gas network until it reaches Ukraine’s western border evoke disbelief and do not meet the current contract,” he said. “From the start of supplies of Russian gas at the entry point into Ukraine’s gas transport system, the volume of gas exiting from the western border of Ukraine must correspond exactly to the quantity supplied.”

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