Gazprom boosts Belarus gas as Ukraine dispute deepens
OAO Gazprom boosted gas supplies to Europe through Belarus as Russia's dispute with Ukraine over pricing deepened and no new talks were scheduled, Bloomberg reported.
The Ukrainian negotiating team remained in Kiev and hasn't said when it plans to return to Moscow, Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov told reporters today. Talks between the two sides on the price of gas deliveries to Ukraine for 2009 and transit fees for Russian gas to Europe through the country broke down on Dec. 31, and Gazprom cut supplies of the fuel to Ukraine yesterday.
Russia, which supplies a quarter of Europe's gas, 80 percent through Ukraine, is seeking to avoid further damage to its reputation after its August war with U.S.-allied Georgia. This week's cutoff echoed a similar dispute in 2006 which disrupted supplies to Europe, calling into question Russia's reliability as an energy supplier.
"It's a game of nerves like it was three years ago," Masha Lipman, an analyst with the Moscow Carnegie Center research group, said in a phone interview today.
Officials from Gazprom, Russia's state gas exporter, are ready to travel to Brussels and European Union countries to explain Russia's stance, the Russian Foreign Ministry said today. A Ukrainian delegation led by Energy Minister Yuriy Prodan was already on a tour of EU capitals, visiting Prague to hold talks on the gas price and debt conflict.