Continuous spats between Ukraine and Russia over natural gas contracts are inspiring a rethink of supplies to Western Europe to be discussed in October, the head of the International Energy Agency said Sunday, Dow Jones reported.
The remarks come after Russian President Dmitry Medvedev Friday said Moscow doubted that Ukraine - which transits Russian gas to Western Europe - had enough money to pay for the supplies, hinting at more disruptions to come. "The Ukrainian issue triggers lots of discussion between the European Union and the IEA," Nobuo Tanaka told Dow Jones.
The IEA, which represents the most industrialized energy consumers, will be "discussing gas security in October with energy ministers" of its member countries, he said. They will talk about "what kind of coordination" they could have to confront the supply insecurity risk, Tanaka said. "IEA members should have as many possible alternatives, invest into energy efficiency and diversify sources of transmission. [Liquefied natural gas] is a good alternative," he said.
Russian gas supplies - long seen as among the most reliable in the world - have been subject to interruptions in past years due to disputes over pricing and debts related to the supply and transit of gas to Ukraine.
The spats have led to several shutdowns of exports of this major route to Western Europe. Gazprom cut deliveries of 90 million cubic meters of natural gas per day, destined to Ukraine, on Jan. 1 over unpaid debts, hitting supplies to countries in the region, such as Bulgaria and Moldova. The supply was fully restored after three weeks but it followed another shutdown over a pricing dispute in 2005-2006 and a threat to cut supply late in 2007.
More recently, a blast, apparently accidental, in a breakaway Moldavian region temporarily halted some Russia natural gas supplies to the Balkans.