Russian gas deliveries to Turkey, Balkan states halted (Lead)

January 6th, 2009 - 6:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Moscow, Jan 6 (RIA Novosti) Russian gas supplies through Ukraine to Turkey have stopped, the Turkish minister of energy and natural resources said Tuesday. Mehmet Hilmi Guler said Turkey was trying to compensate for the loss with supplies from elsewhere.

Gas deliveries to Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, and Romania were halted Monday night.

Ukraine’s state-run Naftogaz said earlier Tuesday Gazprom had reduced deliveries of natural gas for transit through Ukraine to a third of their normal rate, which would affect Western European customers.

Gazprom said it would pump more gas through alternative routes via Belarus and Turkey to ensure European supplies were not affected.

The Russian energy monopoly said Monday it would reduce its delivery of gas to Ukraine by 65.3 million cubic meters - the volume that had been stolen.

Gazprom’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Alexei Miller said the company was ready to guarantee deliveries to Europe by buying gas on the spot market, as well as increase transit volumes through Belarus, Poland and Turkey. Gazprom would increase volumes of gas taken from underground reservoirs in European countries.

Gazprom cut off gas supplies to Ukraine Thursday after last-ditch talks with Kiev on a new deal for 2009 and debt repayments failed late on New Year’s Eve.

Around 80 percent of Russia’s gas exports to Europe pass through Ukraine, and some European countries, including Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania, have reported drops in Russian gas supplied through Ukraine’s pipeline network.

Miller has accused Naftogaz of tapping Russian gas, which Ukraine denied, blaming Russia for creating the shortfall by deliberately cutting deliveries to Europe.

With Ukraine’s gas debt to Russia from 2008 unresolved and no contract agreed for 2009 deliveries, the issue of Russian gas flowing through Ukrainian pipes to European consumers further west has become contentious.

In response to a claim by Ukraine’s energy ministry, the Kiev economic court ruled Monday that Naftogaz could not pump Russian gas westwards at a price of $1.6 for 1,000 cubic meters per 100 km.

Both Gazprom and Naftogaz have said that they will file lawsuits with the Stockholm Arbitration Court, which deals with international commercial legal disputes. The court Monday said it could not comment on whether it was considering lawsuits from either party in the gas dispute.

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