Cold winter looms in Ukraine following failure of gas deal

2014-10-24 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) Ukraine is preparing for a cold winter after Kiev and Moscow failed to conclude a deal on resuming Russian gas deliveries to the country. 

Russian and Ukrainian officials say they will meet again next week in Brussels as they could not hammer out an agreement in the Belgian capital.

Listen to this report by Stefan Bos

Prices and installments have been the main stumbling blocks. Ukraine reportedly asked the European Union for a loan worth almost 2 billion, nearly 2.5 billion dollars, during the meeting.  

Russia cut off flows to Ukraine in June saying it had not paid bills of some 5 billion dollars. Kiev claims it has been forced to pay unreasonable high prices in part as a punishment for the ouster of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych earlier this year.  

The EU is closely involved in the talks, amid concerns the dispute could also lead to shortages elsewhere in Europe. 

Russia's energy giant Gazprom disrupted flows to Europe in 2006 and 2009 saying Ukraine took some of the natural gas intended for the EU, to meet its own winter demand. 

In Ukraine, residents are now preparing for another long cold winter, including teacher Darya Tkachenko in Kiev. 

“We are ready for the winter...," the young woman said. "An inspection in our school has been conducted. In many classrooms windows have been replaced by new ones which are energy efficient. Heat shields have been installed behind radiators in classrooms. We are going to keep it warm.”

Yet not everyone is lucky and school holidays have been extended. Several hospitals are also known to suffer of a lack of heating in this impoverished former Soviet nation. 

Energy experts fear Ukrain e may not have enough natural gas quickly available to overcome the annual freezing winter.    

“If we are talking about natural gas volume, there’s still enough of it,” explained Ukrainian expert Denys Sakva. “But there’s a concern about the speed of gas extraction from the storage, which will be likely not sufficient by the end of the winter," he explained. 

Ukraine is said to need some 30 billion cubic metres of natural gas, but Europe could provide just over half via reverse supplies. The rest should come from its own reserves of natural gas. 

Or other resources. Yet, coal production has fallen sharply, and reserves are likely to run out soon, due to ongoing fighting between government forces and pro-Russian separatists in coal-rich eastern Ukraine.   

 

(from Vatican Radio)