Are you sure?

EU presidency says gas dispute “bilateral problem”

  European Union president the Czech Republic said on Friday the natural gas dispute between Russia and Ukraine was a bilateral problem and it would not step in until gas supplies to the bloc were affected.

Moscow has said flows to the European Union should not be damaged by the row over how much Kiev pays for gas, and so far western European utilities reported no drop in supply.

Officials from Ukraine, a transit rout for a fifth of the gas to the EU, met the Czech government on Friday, a day after Prague took over the EU’s rotating presidency. “The debate was about that it is quite unacceptable for the European Union that the conflict of two private companies would or should anyhow undermine the supply of gas to the European Union,” said Czech EU presidency spokesman Jiri Potuznik.

“But at the moment we do believe it is a bilateral problem and is going to be solved by those two companies or their governments. We are not going to interfere until the moment when the pressure of gas will reach some low limits.”

Ukraine said it had a large amount of gas in storage and was able to keep pipeline pressure at the normal amount on their own, Potuznik said. But he added: “Of course no one knows how big this storage is and what the reserves really are.”

Czech pipeline operator RWE Transgas said there had been no interruptions to daily volumes and that Gazprom had told it the dispute should not cut volumes to western Europe. (Reuters)