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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 6th, 2009
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Russia in a New Gas War with Ukraine.

Kester Kenn Klomegah

MOSCOW, Mar 5 (IPS) – The Ukraine-Russia gas dispute has boosted plans for construction of the South Stream and North Stream gas pipelines that would eventually divert Russian gas supplies through the Black Sea and the Baltic seabed respectively to European consumers. But the plans have led to a new spat between Russia and Ukraine. The new plans would mean that Russia would no longer send its gas supplies through Ukraine, which locked horns with Russia over payment of outstanding gas debts last December. The dispute led to gas supply disruptions to European consumers in the dead of winter.

“Going beyond the controversy, diversification of gas supplies is an important factor in energy security,” Denis Daniilidis, spokesperson for the Moscow office of the European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, told IPS. On an official visit to Spain early this month, Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller promised development of the Arctic gas field, which has estimated reserves of 3.8 trillion cubic metres. This would supply the North Stream gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, currently being built under the Baltic Sea.

Bulgaria, Hungary, Italy and many other European Union members have also reiterated their interest in construction of the South Stream gas pipeline, intended to send Russian gas to Europe across the Black Sea bed. The South Stream gas pipeline, linking the Russian Black Sea port Novorossiysk to Bulgaria’s Varna, is due to be commissioned in 2013.

Belarusian Prime Minister Sergey Sidorsky has proposed another pipeline to guarantee stable supply of Russian gas to Europe, and has sought involvement of Poland and Germany in the project. The proposed pipeline would bring gas from the Yamal Peninsula in north-western Siberia.

But some Ukrainian experts are cautioning against such expansion. Volodymyr Vakhitov, Ukrainian expert on energy economics, told IPS that it is necessary to guarantee not just the route but the supplier.

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