BRUSSELS (Reuters) – There is no immediate danger to Russian gas supplies to European Union industry or households for now from the Russia-Ukraine gas dispute, the EU Commission said on Monday, but cautioned that the situation could change.
Russian gas monopoly Gazprom cut off gas supplies to Ukraine on January 1 in a dispute over debts and pricing that shows no sign of ending, worrying European consumers that depend on Russia for a quarter of their natural gas.
“At this point in time, consumers remain unaffected, and there is no immediate danger to gas supplies to European consumers,” Commission spokesman Ferran Tarradellas Espuny told a regular briefing. “But the situation is changing every minute, this could change any hour.”
“We don’t see any real danger to normal gas supplies to the industry either at this point in time,” Tarradellas Espuny said, adding reserve stocks in the bloc remained “quite high.”
He noted that several members of the 27-nation bloc had reported disruptions to their gas supplies as a result of the Russia-Ukraine row.
“There have been minor supply problems reported in Hungary, and Slovakia. In Romania, a substantial loss of pressure was reported,” he said.
Greece, Bulgaria and Croatia reported reduced supply of gas on Monday. The European Union has called an emergency meeting of envoys for 1330 GMT on Monday in Brussels. Gazprom’s deputy chief executive, Alexander Medvedev, is in Paris for talks.
Moscow, long at odds with Ukraine over its neighbor’s ambition to join NATO, has accused Kiev of stealing gas intended for Europe, but Ukraine has alleged Russia was cutting flows by more than half through a key export pipeline.
A similar gas row briefly disrupted supplies to Europe three years ago. That crisis prompted calls for the European Union to diversify its energy supplies, but it has struggled to break its reliance on Russia.
The EU has repeatedly stressed it will not act as mediator in the row, which it argues is a commercial dispute between Russia and Ukraine. But its officials have been in contact with both sides and it has publicly urged a swift resolution.
“Since we are the main market for Russian gas .. we have an obvious interest in applying pressure on these parties to reach as soon as possible an agreement which is definitive,” EU Commission spokesman Johannes Laitenberger said.