20th Mar 2018

Deja vu as Russia gas cuts hit eight more EU countries

  • Gazprom distribution map - the 2009 gas war damaged the firm's reputation as a reliable supplier (Photo: gazprom.ru)

Eight EU countries have joined Italy in noting a sharp drop in Russian gas supplies, in events recalling the massive 2009 crunch.

Gazprom deliveries to Austria and Slovakia reportedly fell by 30 percent on Thursday (2 February). Shipments to Poland fell 7 percent and Czech distributor RWE Transgaz said deliveries are "several" percent lower than normal.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The European Commission on Friday added that Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary and Romania have also been affected.

The cuts began in Italy on Tuesday. Earlier this week it reported a 10 percent drop, but the figure hit 20 percent on Thursday.

Member states created special reserves after the 2009 gas crunch - which cost EU firms hundreds of millions of euros and which saw blackouts in some former Communist EU countries in the middle of a harsh winter.

But there are signs the 2012 crunch could also get nasty.

Polish distributor PGNiG had already begun lowering supplies to three big industrial clients - including the country's main petrol refinery, PKN Orlen - before the Russian problem. It cited high demand due to the cold snap, prompting the government to tap emergency stocks.

Slovak distributor SPP told people not to worry because it can get help from Austria and the Czech Republic - themselves victims of cuts.

The parallels multiplied between 2012 and 2009 on Thursday when Gazprom accused Ukraine of stealing EU-bound transit gas.

Gazprom chairman Alexander Medvedev told Interfax: "While sitting on transit pipelines, Ukraine is today taking gas at the level of 60 billion cubic metres a year, which goes far beyond the volumes covered by [our] contracts."

Ukrainian distributor Naftogaz said in a statement: "The volume of gas transit through Ukraine's territory and the off-take of imported gas are at levels set by the contract with Gazprom."

Moscow and Kiev - also as in 2009 - are currently engaged in a highly political gas price dispute.

Meanwhile, question marks hang over Gazprom's line on Ukraine.

Polish distributor PGNiG said the drop came on the Russia-Belarus-Poland pipeline, not on the Russia-Ukraine-Poland network.

And two sources inside Gazprom told press the company is struggling with internal problems.

"The gas has to be transported over very long distances, and it can take time to get the gas through to the consumer," one unnamed contact told Dow Jones. "Some requests are higher than we can put in the pipe ... requests for gas have been higher for more than a week," the second source told Reuters.


Ukraine's New Year gas nightmare

Throughout 2011 Ukraine was locked in a dispute with Russia over gas prices. The quarrel is set to escalate in 2012 as Russia squeezes Kyiv to choose deeper integration with Moscow in exchange for cheaper gas.

Russia-Ukraine gas crunch could strike again, Putin says

Europe might face gas cuts anew this winter, but would get a "detailed" advance warning this time, if Russia decided to turn off the tap to Ukraine over their price disputes, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Thursday during a televised question-and-answer session.


This WEEK in the European Union

Greek debt and - potentially - a new Russia gas crisis will dominate EU affairs in the coming week.

VW dismisses complaints on Dieselgate fix

'I think customers who want to get information (...) are able to receive information if they want," VW management board member Hiltrud Werner told EUobserver. Consumer groups disagree.

News in Brief

  1. EU leaders expected to approve Brexit future talks guidelines
  2. Tusk: EU must 'continue to engage' with US on trade
  3. European elections set for 23-26 May 2019
  4. EU tries to find common candidate for top UN food job
  5. Facebook post triggers Norway no-confidence vote
  6. Merkel: 'no reason' to sanction Schroeder for Russia support
  7. MEPs and Council strike deal on posted workers' rights
  8. EU parliament to investigate Facebook data 'breach'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EUobserverHiring - Sales Associate With 2+ Years Experience - Apply Now!
  2. EUobserverHiring - Finance Officer With Accounting Degree or Experience - Apply Now!
  3. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  4. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  5. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  6. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  7. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  8. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  10. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  11. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  12. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?