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

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Dave Schuler
About Dave Schuler
Over the years Dave Schuler has worked as a martial arts instructor, a handyman, a musician, a cook, and a translator. He's owned his own company for the last thirty years and has a post-graduate degree in his field. He comes from a family of politicians, teachers, and vaudeville entertainers. All-in-all a pretty good preparation for blogging. He has contributed to OTB since November 2006 but mostly writes at his own blog, The Glittering Eye, which he started in March 2004.


  1. Brett says:

    I agree. Every year this happens, including last year if I recall correctly, and the year before it.

    To be fair, it’s not just the Russians either trying to make a quick buck or exploit the gas for political power – 80% of Europe’s gas runs through Ukraine, who has stolen gas in the past (the reason why the Russians are cutting it off now is because they are claiming Ukraine stole a certain amount of gas again).

  2. Dave Schuler says:

    The Ukrainian position is that they’re just doing what they’re entitled to do under their agreement with Russia. And the reality of the Russian gas industry is that it’s a Ukrainian gas industry. That goes back to the 1930’s.