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Russia: Theft Causes Problems With Natural Gas Deliveries To Greece

By Tito Singh

Moscow, 5 February 1999 (RFE/RL) -- Greek Development Minister Vasso Papandreou is due in Moscow on Tuesday to discuss continuing problems in natural gas deliveries from Russia to Greece.

She is scheduled to meet with Russian Deputy Prime Minister -- and former Russian envoy to Athens -- Valentina Matvienko, as well as Russian Energy Minister Andrei Generalov.

Papandreou met yesterday with the Russian charge d'affaires in Athens and reportedly passed along a letter in which she said delivery problems are continuing despite assurances from Moscow in November that they would be resolved.

The Athens News Agency quotes Russian officials as saying the problems are mainly attributable to gas theft at the Ukraine section of the trans-Balkan pipeline. The glitches have already affected the operation of several industries in Greece, as well as power plants in Keratsini and Lavrion.

Greece has said it expects to import enough natural gas from Russia to cover approximately 15 per cent of the country's energy needs. Greece's natural gas is delivered by a pipeline from Russia that passes through Ukraine, Romania and Bulgaria.