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Andy Tully

Andy Tully is a veteran news reporter who is now the news editor for Oilprice.com

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Putin Threatens Gas Reduction To Europe

Russian President Vladimir Putin has assured Western Europe that there won’t be any interruption of natural gas supplies from his country this winter unless Ukraine again tries to meet its own energy needs by stealing fuel from the pipeline running through its territory.

“I can reassure you that there will be no crisis that could be blamed on Russian participants in energy cooperation,” the Russian leader said Oct. 16 during a visit to Serbia. He added, however, that “transit risks” are looming.

“If we see that our Ukrainian partners, just like in 2008, begin removing gas without permission from the export pipeline system, we, just like in 2008, will consecutively reduce the stolen volume,” Putin said.

Related: Caspian Sea Could Be Key To Russian Control Of Eurasian Energy Markets

Already this year, on June 16, the Kremlin-run gas monopoly Gazprom cut back on its supply of gas through Ukraine over what it said were Kiev’s billions of dollars of unpaid bills for previous gas deliveries. There are fears that as winter sets in, Ukraine may have to divert gas from the pipeline meant for Western European customers.

Russia is the European Union’s biggest gas supplier. EU countries now get about 30 percent of their gas from Russia, half of it piped through Ukraine.

Twice, in 2006 and 2009, that flow has been interrupted. The stakes this time are higher, though, because of Russia’s unilateral annexation of the Crimean peninsula in March and its suspected support in arms and manpower for pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine. And the EU, along with the United States, has responded to that conflict with strict sanctions that mostly target the Russian energy sector.

Nevertheless, Putin said his government would do everything to prevent a reduction in the westward flow of gas. “We wouldn’t want any crisis to occur during the winter period,” he said. “Russia has always been a reliable supplier, and we have enough resources to satisfy our own demand and the growing demand of our clients in Europe or Asia.”

Related: No Shale Revolution For Europe

Putin says Europe can ensure a stable supply of gas by supporting alternative pipeline routes. Already, some Russian gas is being shipped west in a pipeline that crosses the Baltic Sea to Germany. Another option is the proposed South Stream pipeline, which would ship Russian gas across the Black Sea, then into Central and Southern Europe.

Both the Nord Stream and the South Stream pipelines bypass Ukraine altogether.

“As for the future of Russian gas exports to Europe, the problem of transit across the Ukrainian territory remains. One of the more obvious solutions might be to diversify the delivery routes,” Putin said in an interview published Oct. 15 in the Serbian newspaper Politika.

Putin is scheduled to meet on Oct. 17 in Milan with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to discuss the two countries’ differences, including the dispute over gas.

By Andy Tully of Oilprice.com

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  • Alex on October 17 2014 said:
    It is usual Kiev does not like to repay for the energy
    resources! It was the main reason for the gas supply interruptions from the Russia to Europe in 2008. For example, Kiev asks Poland to supply coal FOR FREE now!

    I wonder why did you use the title of yr article: "Putin Threatens Gas Reduction to Europe". Did he?! I think he tries to prevent this situation!
    Or you do need the Russia like the enemy who uses the gas as the weapon. Do not forget during the last 10 years U.S. destroyed 7 countries using bombs and drones and NATO is moving to the Russian borders, not Russia! For sure Washington has good excuse: U.S. exports Western Values and democracy by any means. All is fair in love and war!..
  • Serge on October 18 2014 said:
    Extremely biased article. All he said was, if Ukraine starts to siphon off gas destined for European consumers, Russia won't be paying for the stolen product. To satisfy the West, I guess he should have written off the 5 billion Ukrainian debt just because Ukraine is now ruled by pro-Western puppet government that uses IMF money to fund brutal civil war.

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