German gas supplies hit by Moscow-Kiev row

2nd January 2006, Comments 0 comments

2 January 2006, BERLIN - German energy giant E.on Ruhrgas said Monday it had been hit by cuts in natural gas arriving from Russia via a pipeline through Ukraine which had its gas supply halted by Moscow at the weekend after a bitter disagreement over pricing.

2 January 2006

BERLIN - German energy giant E.on Ruhrgas said Monday it had been hit by cuts in natural gas arriving from Russia via a pipeline through Ukraine which had its gas supply halted by Moscow at the weekend after a bitter disagreement over pricing.

"We are clearly receiving less (gas) than has been planned in our contract - but we cannot yet give any exact figures," said Ruhrgas spokeswoman Tatjana Dreyer in Essen.

So far the deficit could easily be compensated in Europe's biggest economy, she added.

The Berlin government called Monday for a compromise between Russia and Ukraine in the gas dispute while insisting that Germany - which is heavily dependent on Russian natural gas - is not taking sides in the row.

"There is no finger-pointing from our side," said Martin Jaeger, the German Foreign Ministry spokesman.

Germany imports 35 per cent of its total natural gas from Russia. Of the 37.7 million apartments and homes in Germany over 47 per cent are heated with natural gas, said John Werner of the Federal Association of the German Gas and Water Industry (BGW).

Aribert Peters, head of Energy Consumer Association in Bonn, said Germany was clearly dependent on Russia for gas. "It would be better if this was less the case," he admitted.

German officials had phoned with senior government members in both Moscow and Kiev, said deputy government spokesman Steg who stressed, however, that Berlin was not seeking to play mediator role in the dispute.

Steg noted the cut-off of Russian gas to Ukraine had not happened overnight and that the run-up to Moscow's decision had come over the past years. Russia's state-owned Gazprom wants Ukraine to immediately start paying normal market prices for natural gas. This has been rejected by Kiev.

Economics Minister Michael Glos said despite the Russian gas reductions there was no reason for alarm and that supplies for the winter were secure despite the fact that most of the German gas from Russia comes via a pipeline crossing Ukraine.

Russia has accused Ukraine of stealing gas from the pipeline, an allegation strongly denied by Kiev.

Germany has sufficient gas reserves, which are always raised before the winter months, said an economics ministry spokeswoman, adding that even if supplies from Russia were to be totally cut off, Germany had 77 days worth of gas with extra deliveries from Norway and the Netherlands.

Steg said a planned Russian-German natural gas pipeline running through the Baltic Sea - which was agreed in September - was not put into question by the Russian cut-off to the Ukraine.

The 4 billion euro (4.7 billion dollar) gas pipeline will increase German dependency on Russian gas to up to 50 per cent. It will be 51 per cent owned by Gazprom and 49 per cent by German utilities.

DPA

Subject: German news

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