Street trader sells as on a Chechen street (file photo) (AFP)
27 January 2006 – A pipeline rupture has cut off gas supplies to several districts in Russia's southern republic of Chechnya.
Russian officials said the pipeline ruptured late on 26 January outside the town of Gudermes, leaving the districts of Shali and Kurchaloi, parts of the capital Grozny, as well as the towns of Argun and Khankala without gas supplies.
Chechen chief prosecutor Valery Kuznetsov said a criminal investigation had been opened, but said evidence suggested an accident had damaged the pipeline.
Specialists from the Emergency Ministry and the regional gas utility, as well as representatives of law enforcement agencies were at the site.
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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.