Europe struggles to tap Russian gas

A woman passes by a gas pipe of the gas-compressor station in the small Ukrainian city of Boyarka, near Kiev

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

Scott Jagow: Russia and Ukraine are at it again. Bickering over natural gas. Ukraine has control of the pipeline. Russia has the gas and wants to charge more to Ukraine. Europe is on the losing end here. It's not getting its gas.

Let's bring in our man in London, Stephen Beard. Stephen, how bad is the dispute this time?

Stephen Beard: Well now we have eight European countries and Turkey who say they've been affected by this dispute. Austria and Romania say their supplies of Russian natural gas are down as much as 75 percent. This is pretty critical actually for the European Union, because as a whole, the bloc gets about a quarter of its natural gas from Russia, and the overwhelming bulk of it comes down this pipeline.

Jagow: And it's pretty cold in most of Europe.

Beard: It certainly is, yeah -- freezing temperatures in most of the European capitals, and as a result obviously demand for natural gas is particularly high.

Jagow: It sounds like this is possibly political backlash by Russian against Ukraine for getting closer with the West?

Beard: There's no doubt that politics forms an element of this. But the analysts that I've been talking to about this say that the dispute really is mostly about money, and more than anything else, the Russians would like to maneuver the Ukrainians into a corner, so that they agree in return for cheaper natural gas to surrender control of that pipeline, which takes natural gas to Russia's most important customers by far, Germany, Italy and other west European states.

Jagow: Stephen, does Russia have any other option for getting natural gas to Europe?

Beard: There are other pipelines. They carry only about 20 percent of Russian gas to Western Europe. The Russians are at the moment working on a new pipeline which would deliver natural gas directly to its biggest customer by far in western Europe, Germany. But for the moment, really the Ukrainian pipeline is the main conduit of Russian gas to Europe.

Jagow: Our European correspondent, Stephen Beard in London. Thank you.

Beard: OK, Scott.

About the author

Stephen Beard is the European bureau chief and provides daily coverage of Europe’s business and economic developments for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...