16 January 2006 -- Moldova today called on the European Union to send experts to help it in its negotiations with the Russian energy giant Gazprom, which cut off gas supplies to the former Soviet republic at the start of the month.
Eugen Carpov, head of Moldova's diplomatic mission in Brussels, also hit out at Moscow, accusing it of using Gazprom as a foreign-policy tool to influence Moldova's attitude toward the EU and NATO.
Gazprom cut off supplies to Moldova on 1 January because it refused the Russian state-controlled firm's demand that it pay double for its gas. However, the move was overshadowed by a similar crisis with Ukraine.
Talks between Gazprom and Moldova are scheduled to resume on 16 January.
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- 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.