EU warns of summer gas shortages
Russia has warned repeatedly that crisis-hit Ukraine might have trouble paying its bills and that missed payments could lead to a repeat of the January gas crisis.Brussels -- The European Commission warned on Thursday of a possible new gas shortage as soon as this summer and called for an investigation into whether it could drag on into winter.
As Kiev struggles to pay for Russian gas to fill its storage network before winter, the European Commission and EU states are alert for signs of a repeat of last winter, when Russia cut the gas flow to Europe through Ukraine.
"The possibility of a new gas shortage in summer calls for an in-depth investigation of its impact on the next winter, as this will affect the preparedness of the EU shippers to supply their customers," the commission said in a statement.
Earlier Thursday, the Commission and EU gas experts sounded out officials from Russia's Gazprom and Ukrainian gas group Naftogaz on the outlook for gas supply next winter.
"The commission urged both parties, Gazprom and Naftogaz, to reach a stable and long-term arrangement to secure transit towards the EU," the Commission said.
"The European Commission emphasized that all parties should fulfil their legal and contractual obligations as far as transit to the EU is concerned."
Russia has warned repeatedly that crisis-hit Ukraine would have trouble paying its bills and that missed payments could lead to a repeat of the January gas crisis, which disrupted supplies to Europe amid a cold winter spell.
Over 80 percent of Russian gas deliveries to end clients in the European Union travel through Ukraine's pipeline network.
On Tuesday, Ukrainian Prime Minister Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko said Kiev wanted to borrow four billion dollars (2.9 billion euros) from European banks to pay for Russian gas to refill its storage facilities.