If It’s January
it must be time for the Russians to cut off Europe’s gas supply:
VIENNA, Austria — The Russia-Ukraine natural gas dispute hit Europe with the force of a winter storm Tuesday, cutting or limiting supplies to nearly a dozen nations. Tens of thousands of people were left without heat and governments scrambled to find alternate energy sources.
Shocked by how fast the shortages were spreading, the European Union demanded a quick end to the dispute — a sharp turnaround from their earlier stance, when officials had downplayed the conflict between Moscow and Kiev as primarily a business matter.
But by Tuesday evening, gauges on delivery pipelines to six countries — including some depending totally on Russian gas — were pointing toward zero and an increasing number of other nations reported significant reductions.
The Ukrainian gas company Naftogaz said Russia’s gas giant Gazprom had sharply reduced its shipments to Europe through pipelines crossing Ukraine, triggering the cuts.
Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, Romania, Croatia and Turkey all reported a halt in gas shipments, and even France, Germany, Austria and Poland reported substantial drops in supplies from Russia.
Somehow I suspect that the low price of crude oil, at roughly $50 a barrel far below Russia’s budget break-even point of $70, has as much to do with the current crisis as the payment dispute between Russia and the Ukraine.
Clearly, Europe needs to align its energy and economic policies with its foreign policy. The recent conflict between Russia and Georgia has effectively foreclosed Georgia and a cross-Georgia pipeline as a reliable supply in alternative to the Russia-Ukraine supply. Without an alternative January cut-offs may well become commonplace, depending only on Russia’s budget needs.
Image above courtesy of DW-World