Russian gas from Ukraine reaches Czech Republic

January 21st, 2009 - 12:06 pm ICT by IANS  

Prague, Jan 21 (DPA) Russian natural gas flowing via Ukraine has reached the Czech Republic, nearly two weeks after a shutdown of supplies forced the country to tap its underground reserves, a gas importer said.Martin Chalupsky, a spokesman for the country’s dominant gas importer and distributor, RWE Transgas, said that “the first thousands of cubic metres” arrived in the Lanzhot border station shortly after 6 p.m. Tuesday.

The gas arrived sooner than expected. The firm presumed that the supplies would cross the Czech border within 48 hours of Russia’s Gazprom opening taps early Tuesday. The Slovak gas importer SPP said that gas would likely reach the Czech Republic at night.

Slovakia was the first country to receive gas at around noon. Hungary confirmed the resumption in deliveries in early afternoon. Austria also confirmed the start of deliveries Tuesday evening.

Moscow cut off Europe-bound deliveries via Ukraine Jan 7 amid a bitter row with Kiev over a new contract and alleged unpaid bills.

As a result industrial firms in central and southeast Europe were forced to halt production. People in several Balkan countries, including EU member Bulgaria, were left without heat in the height of winter.

Russia and Ukraine clinched a deal Monday paving way for renewal of deliveries. But the protracted dispute has shattered their reputation in the European Union, which is looking to diversify its supplies.

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