22nd Aug 2019

EU to hold extraordinary gas group meeting

The EU is to hold an extraordinary gas meeting to discuss the latest energy dispute between Ukraine and Russia and to assess whether any actions should be taken.

"The Commission is going to convene the Gas Coordination Group in mid-October to evaluate the situation of this bilateral dispute and the consequences that it may have to the supply of gas to the European Union," a commission spokesperson said on Wednesday (3 October).

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  • The EU fears a repetition of the gas supply disruption of 2006 (Photo: Gazprom)

He added that representatives from Russia and Ukraine will be invited to the meeting "to give us as much information as possible about this bilateral commercial dispute."

The Gas Coordination Group, set up in 2004, is a group of gas experts that analyses possible scenarios in which disruptions of gas supply may occur.

The group also proposes solutions to assure uninterrupted supply to all EU member states through a framework of solidarity between member states.

The latest meeting of the group was prompted by a threat on Tuesday (2 October) by Russian energy giant Gazprom to cut gas supplies to Ukraine unless Kiev pays a €900 million debt by the end of this month.

Russia accounts for one quarter of the EU's gas consumption, and eighty percent of the gas is transported through Ukraine, leading to fears that the recent dispute could affect the bloc's energy supply – something that happened during a similar dispute in early 2006.

Gazprom reliable, says EU

The Commission said it considers Gazprom a reliable energy supplier and welcomed the prior notification to the EU of the dispute.

"We have had 30 years of constant supplies and respect of contracts. So in general terms, we consider Gazprom a reliable supplier. Certainly, we consider it is positive that they have informed the Commission before [taking] any decision," said the spokesperson.

Both Gazprom and Ukraine promised the EU that their dispute would not disrupt Russian gas exports as happened in 2006.

The Commission also refused to respond to speculations that the dispute is politically motivated, stressing that it considered the dispute to be commercial, not political.

It called on both sides to resolve the quarrel as soon as possible.

On Wednesday, Ukraine energy minister Yuriy Boiko travelled to Russia to hold negotiations with Gazprom in an effort to solve the crisis. Prime minister Viktor Yanukovych said that he is considering heading to Moscow, as well.

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