Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko takes a dip in the icy-cold waters of the Dnieper River, 19 January (epa)
23 January 2006 -- Ukraine has denied it is stealing Russian natural gas from a pipeline network meant to deliver supplies to customers in other countries.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov admitted that Ukraine's gas consumption has surged since 22 January, amid sub-zero temperatures. But Yekhanurov claimed Gazprom sanctioned the temporary increase.
"Ukraine is meeting its obligations regarding Russian gas transit across Ukraine. I am grateful to Gazprom and the Russian government for their understanding of Ukraine's difficult situation now and for allowing us to increase our daily [gas] consumption limits stipulated in [agreements with Russia]," he said on 23 January.
Earlier today, Gazprom's Deputy Chairman Aleksandr Medvedev accused Ukraine of withholding some natural gas meant for other European countries.
European gas importers are scrambling to find alternative sources as sharp cuts in Russian supplies entered a second week.
European Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson today said the shortage of Russian gas has "major strategic implications" for Europe.
(Reuters, AP, ITAR-TASS, Interfax)
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.