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European Commission confirms reduction of Russian gas supply to Europe

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Feb. 3, 2012, 4:31 p.m. | Business — by Interfax-Ukraine

European Commission spokeswoman Marlene Holzner officially confirmed that Russia has reduced gas deliveries to Europe.

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European Commission spokeswoman Marlene Holzner officially confirmed that Russia has reduced gas deliveries to Europe at a Friday briefing in Brussels. Poland, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Greece and Italy have all experienced shortfalls, she said. Austria had received 30% less gas than ordered, Italy 24% less and Poland 8% less, according to Thursday figures.

Russia has not supplied a sufficient explanation for this, Holzner said. The EC is maintaining contact with representatives of Russia in Brussels.

All that is known so far from Russia is that the country is having an extremely cold winter this year and that it needs more gas than usual to meet its own needs, she said.

Meanwhile, the EU does not yet consider this to be an emergency situation. All EU countries can purchase gas from other EU members or take advantage of the gas accumulated in underground storage facilities, Holzner said.

"I can also say that those measures we undertook after the 2009 gas crisis work very well," she said.

She pointed to Poland, which buys gas from Germany, as an example. However, since there is no gas pipeline within the EU capable of providing the country with enough gas, Poland selects part of Russian transit gas intended for Germany and pays for it as gas supplied by Germany.

This is provided for "in the second energy package," Holzner said.

Besides that, the EU's internal infrastructure - gas pipelines that connect member states - supplies gas from Western Europe to Eastern Europe. There are new storage facilities in Slovakia and the Czech Republic, and compressor facilities at gas distribution stations in Baumgarten, Austria were enhanced with EC funding, she said.

There is also a regulation in force since 2009 that requires each EU member state to have at least 30 days' worth of gas reserves, Holzner said.

There is no reason to launch the crisis mechanism at this point, since that would require two conditions: a significant increase in consumption and a failure of market mechanisms - that is, when enterprises are no longer in the condition to ensure deliveries. The crisis mechanism works in a three-stage procedure, starting with the enterprise and only at the third stage involving the EU.
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