(Corrects to say supply deal will start Oct. 2014, not Jan.
2014. Removes analyst comment saying deal had begun, adds
Centrica spokesman in paragraph 6)
* Centrica import deal with Gazprom to begin in October
* Import deal will bring 2.4 bcm of gas to the UK
By Henning Gloystein and Oleg Vukmanovic
LONDON, March 21 Britain will begin this year to
import gas from Russia under a formal contract for the first
time, just as European calls to loosen Moscow's grip on energy
supply mount because of the crisis over Ukraine.
The country's biggest utility Centrica signed a deal
in 2012 with Russian state-controlled Gazprom to
import 2.4 billion cubic metres of gas over a period of three
years, and the supplies will begin flowing in October.
Russia is Europe's biggest supplier of gas, providing around
a third of the continent's needs, and some of this has
previously reached Britain from continental European storage
The exports largely go to central and southeastern Europe
rather than to Britain, which still has significant domestic
reserves and gets most of its imports from Norwegian pipelines
or liquefied natural gas (LNG) shipments from further afield.
With domestic production falling by around 7 percent a year,
Britain has had to find more suppliers to fill the gap.
Supplies under this deal will begin flowing into Britain
from October, a Centrica spokesman said.
While this is the first direct contractual deal, it is not
the first time Britain has used Russian gas to heat homes and
fuel power plants.
Gazprom estimates it sends around 11 billion-12 billion
cubic metres (bcm) to Britain each year, accounting for around
15 percent of total UK supplies.
These sales involve volumes that Britain sucks in from
mainland European countries during times of peak demand. The
majority of Russian gas imported into Britain in recent years
has been sourced from storage sites in Germany, largely filled
with Russian supply.
European Union leaders in Brussels on Friday discussed
moving energy supplies away from Russia, saying Moscow's
annexation of Crimea made them more determined to reduce
dependence on Russian oil and gas.
A British government circulated to other EU governments has
proposed options for cutting dependence on Russia that include
asking the United States to export more gas and working with
(Editing by Anthony Barker)