Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (file photo) (ITAR-TASS)
15 February 2006 -- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov travels to Brussels today for talks with senior European Union officials.
EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said the meeting will be the first opportunity to discuss energy issues since Russia's gas row with Ukraine at the beginning of the year.
During the dispute over prices, Russia briefly halted gas shipments to Ukraine -- the transit route for 80 percent of Russian gas to Europe. As a result, shipments of Russian gas to Europe, which gets about one-quarter of its gas from Moscow, were effected.
The Russian-Ukrainian gas row sparked debate in the EU over Russia's reliability as a supplier and led many EU states to call for a more coherent energy policy and alternative suppliers.
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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.