http://gdb.rferl.org/BA33A5D8-48F5-4B5C-9A1A-1A7D8F8877B6_w203.jpg --> http://gdb.rferl.org/BA33A5D8-48F5-4B5C-9A1A-1A7D8F8877B6_mw800_mh600.jpg
The Solokhovskoe gas field near Poltava, Ukraine (epa)
3 January 2006 -- The EU's energy comissioner says Ukraine and Moldova have formally asked the EU to help in negotiations with Russia over gas prices.
Commissioner Andris Piebalgs told Reuters that the two countries "called upon the EU to take initiative in facilitating in the negotiation process between Ukraine and Moldova and (the) Russian Federation."
Earlier, Piebalgs said Russia's reputation has suffered as a result of Moscow's "hasty decision" to cut gas supplies to Ukraine because of a pricing dispute. And he said the crisis had shown that the European Union is “vulnerable” to gas shortages.
Russian and Ukranian gas officials are to meet later today, while EU energy officials have scheduled an emergency meeting tomorrow to discuss how to react to the crisis.
European consumers have reported that gas supplies are back to normal today after Gazprom boosted deliveries to compensate for earlier reductions.
Gazprom has accused Ukraine of siphoning off gas meant for Europe, for its own use.
Click on the map for an enlarged image.
- Ukraine consumes 70 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas per year. It produces 20 bcm of its own gas, has a signed contract to import 40 bcm from Turkmenistan, and in 2005 was getting 29 bcm from Russia as payment for transit of Russian gas.
- Ukraine sells some 7 bcm of gas a year to the West and places some in underground storage facilities. These facilities can hold 34.5 bcm.
Ukraine is the sixth-largest consumer of gas
in the world and uses more gas than Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia combined.
- Russia has proven gas reserves of 47 trillion cubic meters (tcm) -- the largest in the world ahead of Iran and Qatar.
Russia sells approximately 160 bcm to Europe each year.
By 2015, Europe is expected to import 300 bcm, or 40 percent of its projected needs from Russia.
Russia's Gazprom is the world's largest gas company.
It is the only company allowed by Russian law to export gas outside the borders of the CIS. It also owns the gas-transportation system and most of the gas fields in Russia.
The Russian state is Gazprom's majority shareholder
, with a 51 percent share. The company's ownership rights changed as of the beginning of 2006, with Gazprom stock being sold on the open market. The Russian state, however, will continue to hold the majority stake.