A Russian gas pipeline (file photo) (epa)
12 January 2006 -- The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, or OSCE, said today it will create a fact-finding mission to look into energy security, including in Russia and Ukraine.
Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht, whose country holds the OSCE rotating presidency, said the inspection mission would go to those two and other countries at a date he did not disclose. He also said the OSCE planned to organize an energy security conference later this year.
An acute price dispute between Russia and Ukraine led to gas shortfalls in Europe earlier this month. Europe currently gets 20 percent of its natural gas supplies from Russia, via pipelines in Ukraine.
The two sides eventually reached a controversial deal that Ukrainian Prime Minister Yurij Yekhanurov, in an interview with Associated Press, today vowed to formalize despite widespread criticism at home.
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.