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16 Nov, 2009 11:56

Russia, EU sign early warning memorandum on gas supplies

Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko and EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs signed a document outlining procedures for ensuring energy security in future gas crisis.

The signing comes on the eve of the Russia-EU summit in Stockholm where both sides are expected to express their concerns over possible gas supply interruptions if transit countries, most notably Ukraine, fail to make payments.

Minister Shmatko is confident that a crisis will be avoided.

“Claims that Ukraine will be unable to pay for gas are made from time to time. Yet, I must say that the Ukrainian gas company has always met its commitments. We hope the commitments will also be met in the future.”

According to the Energy Ministry, Ukraine has stored almost 26 billion cubic meters of gas.

EU Energy commissioner Andris Piebalgs believes both sides are prepared and will take measures to ensure security.

“The document envisages certain regulations governing the work of experts so that we can know about such situations and prevent conflicts. This is due to the fact that Russian experts report to the Energy Ministry and European experts report to the European Commission.”

Piebalgs added that Europe is better prepared for a potential gas crisis this year.

“Our gas storages our 100 percent full, we have increased all the types of switching opportunities where you can’t cover gas for very long period. We have also prepared emergency plans if they will be needed. So we’ve done on this side. On the Russian side I believe there is also plans for increasing supplies for other pipelines if there is a problem with one of them. During January, there have been more gas flowing through the Yamal pipeline, It is important to both sides to recognize that the final consumer basically do not feel it.”