EU calls meeting on reduced gas supply
MOSCOW - European countries began to see reduced gas supplies yesterday after Russia cut deliveries to Ukraine in a contract dispute.
The Czech Presidency of the European Union said it would call a crisis meeting of envoys in Brussels on Monday to discuss the dispute, which both Russia and Ukraine had said would not affect other European countries.
"We feel that the situation has now escalated to a point that substantiates an extraordinary meeting," Czech presidency spokesman Radek Honzak said.
Talks will probably be called soon with Moscow, a second presidency spokesman said.
The signs of EU concern arose as Russia's gas export monopoly, Gazprom, accused Ukraine of stealing gas and said some countries in the Balkans had told it they were getting less gas than expected. Gas importers in Romania, Hungary, and Poland said pressure on their pipelines had dropped.
"Gas inflows from import fell by 30 to 40 percent. . . . This is because of Ukraine's dispute with Russia," Ioan Rusu, director of Transgaz, Romania's state-controlled pipeline operator, told Reuters by telephone.
There were similar reports, but indicating less-steep declines, from Budapest and Warsaw.
"Pressure started to decline at 1500 GMT. Pressure is declining continuously. However, the drop has not yet reached a critical level," said Edina Lakatos, a spokeswoman for the Hungarian energy company MOL.
Ukraine's state energy firm, Naftogaz, denied it was siphoning off Russian gas.
Gazprom's accusation suggested that Moscow was in no mood for compromise in a rerun of a 2006 argument that led to supply shortages across the EU.