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Archive for Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Natural gas shortages slam European nations

January 7, 2009

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— The Russia-Ukraine natural gas dispute hit Europe with the force of a winter storm Tuesday, cutting or limiting supplies to at least 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 quarrel — 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 seven countries — including some depending totally on Russian gas — pointed 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. Gazprom in turn accused Ukraine of shutting three of four transit pipelines.

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