A sharp drop in Russian gas supplies has been reported in eight member states, sparking fears of a repeat of the crisis in January 2009 when Russia shut off the gas supply during a cold snap.
A decrease of 30% was yesterday reported in Austria’s gas supplies, and a 21% decrease was reported in Italy. Decreases have also been noted in Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia. All EU member states are required to have to have a month’s worth of gas in reserve.
The European Commission has sent a letter to the gas co-ordination group – made up of national authorities, industry and consumer representatives – asking it to provide information about the supply situation.
A Commission spokesperson said that all the affected countries were able to make up the shortfalls by buying gas from other suppliers, drawing on reserves or using liquefied gas terminals. She said that Poland had negotiated a deal with Germany to take gas from a pipeline running through both countries.
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The Commission said it had not yet received an explanation from Russia about the supply problems. But it said the situation was not at the level where the “crisis mechanism” set up after the 2009 crisis would kick in. This would requires a substantial decrease in supply and a failure of market mechanisms to resolve the problem
Russian gas company Gazprom has blamed the shortage on Ukraine taking more gas from its pipeline that it had been allocated.