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Gazprom Threatens To Cut Off Ukraine

Published: March 12, 2014 (Issue # 1801)



  • Gazprom remains the EUs dominant gas supplier, supplying about a quarter of its gas consumption, however only about 50 percent of this gas transits Ukraine.
    Photo: Sergey Porter / Vedomosti

Gazprom has threatened to cut off gas supplies to Ukraine unless overdue gas bills are paid. On Mar. 7, the deadline for payment of Februarys gas supplied to Ukraine, Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said the debt totaled $1.86 billion and issued this warning: Either Ukraine makes good on its debt and pays for current supplies, or there is a risk of returning to the situation of early 2009.

In 2009, the Russian state gas company cut supply to Ukraine for about ten days as a result of a politically-charged pricing dispute. This crisis led to gas shortages in a handful of central and eastern European countries reliant on Russian gas flowing through Ukraine and accelerated European attempts to diversify its gas supply and supply routes.

Since that time, however, much has changed in the gas trade between Russia and the EU. Though Gazprom remains the EUs dominant gas supplier, supplying about a quarter of its gas consumption, only about 50 percent of this gas transits Ukraine, compared to about 80 percent at the time of the 2009 crisis.

EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger pointed out that EU countries are now required to have a months worth of gas in storage and that these storage containers are relatively full due to this years mild winter, Reuters reported.

Were in a much better position than we were five years ago, Guenther said.

The gas trade has been a major point of contention between Russia and Ukraine for many years, but it seemed a mutually agreeable, though delicate, solution had been achieved a few months ago.

Following Ukraines withdrawal from the Association Agreement with the EU in December that sparked the initial protests in Kiev, Putin and Yanukovych struck a deal that saw Gazprom granting Ukraines state energy company, Naftogaz, a significant gas price discount. The deal, which lowered prices from around $400 per thousand cubic meters to $268.5, was to be renegotiated every three months.

On Mar. 4, with the first three months of the agreement coming to a close, Gazprom decided not to renew the discount.

During a meeting between Gazprom chief Alexei Miller and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, it was announced that starting April, Gazprom would raise gas prices back up to the levels in the existing contract, the same contract that Yulia Tymoshenko had signed in 2009 and resulted in her imprisonment.

Putin, during a news conference on the same day, claimed the decision to raise prices was motivated by economics, not politics. They failed to pay off the debt, I think its $1.5 billion as of today and if they dont pay for February its going to be $2 billion. So if you dont pay, then lets go back to regular prices. This makes perfect commercial sense. This has nothing to do with the situation in Ukraine.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Oct. 22


English teachers can expect to receive a few useful pointers today from Evgeny Kalashnikov, the British Council regional teacher, during the EFL Seminar this afternoon hosted by the British Book Center. The topic of todays seminar is Grammar Practice.


Young Petersburgers will get the chance to jumpstart their careers at Professional Growth, a job fair and forum featuring more than 40 major Russian and international companies vying for potential candidates for future positions. The forum not only is a chance to network but also to learn more about the modern business world and to understand what it takes to get the job you want.



Thursday, Oct. 23


AmChams Public Relations Committee meeting is scheduled to meet this morning at 9 a.m. in their office in the New St. Isaac Office Center.


Sportsmen get their chance to stock up on all kinds of gear at the Hunting and Fishing 2014 exhibition starting today at Lenexpo. Everything from rods and reels to boats, motorcycles and equipment for underwater hunting will be on sale so that any avid outdoorsman can always be prepared.



Friday, Oct. 24


SPIBAs ongoing Breakfast with the Director series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at Sounds of the Universe, a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the clubs website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit Neophobia at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBAs Marketing and Communications Committees round table discussion on Government Relations Practices in Russia this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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