(Reuters) - Russia has had repeated disputes over gas and oil supplies with Ukraine and Belarus, ex-Soviet countries through which pipelines carry much of its energy exports, leading to disruptions of flows to European Union countries.
The disruptions have increased the EU’s resolve to diversify supply away from Russia, while Moscow has sought to build pipelines to bypass Ukraine as a transit country, while pushing Kiev to cede control of its gas pipeline network.
In the latest developments, Russian President Vladimir Putin criticized Ukraine on Thursday for failing to strike a compromise deal on gas and refusing to lease its gas transportation system to both Moscow and the EU. [ID:nL5E8NK6D9]
On Friday, Russia and Belarus openly disagreed over the amount of crude oil Moscow will supply to Minsk next year.
- Gas pricing disputes between Kiev and Moscow came to world attention in January 2006, when supplies to western European customers were halted. A dispute over gas prices - Ukraine then paid just $50 per 1,000 cubic meters and Russia’s Gazprom wanted to charge $230 - was complicated by accusations of corruption in the energy sector from then Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
- Russia’s gas export monopoly Gazprom cut off supplies on January 1 2006, but turned them on again a day later. European consumers complained their supplies had been hit. Gazprom accused Ukraine of stealing gas from export pipelines and Kiev denied any such move.
- Ukraine agreed to a price of $95 per tcm and the introduction of intermediary RosUkrEnergo, which soon became a source of conflict over future gas agreements.
- In March 2008, Russia halved supplies to Ukraine in another row, but quickly reached agreement to restore the flows without affecting European customers.
- In January 2009, yet another pricing row between Moscow and Kiev resulted in a stoppage of Russian gas flows to Europe for about two weeks, further tarnishing Russia’s image as a reliable exporter and spurring Europe to seek new suppliers.
- In April 2010, Russia and Ukraine clinched a new pricing deal, under which Ukraine would pay for 2010 alone about $3 billion less than previously agreed. The deal was in exchange for an extension of a lease for the Russian navy in a Ukrainian Black Sea port.
- Gazprom supplies Europe with a quarter of its gas needs and some two thirds quarters of this passes through pipelines across Ukraine, which in the fourth quarter of 2012 was paying $430 per 1,000 cubic metres of Russian gas - one of the highest prices among Russia’s customers.
- Russia traditionally charged Minsk below market prices for oil in a policy analysts say reflected Moscow’s desire to keep an ally on its Western flank. In recent years Russia has sought prices more in line with booming international market prices.
- Low energy prices and financial help from Moscow are crucial for Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko’s efforts to keep the economy afloat.
- The Druzhba (Friendship) pipeline carries Russian oil through Ukraine and Belarus to Europe.
- The Belarussian spur of Druzhba supplies about one-tenth of Europe’s shipments from west Siberia, going to Poland and Germany.
- During a pricing dispute with Russia in January 2007, oil shipments through Belarus were halted for three days.
- In January 2010, Russia and Belarus signed a new oil supply deal, resolving a month-long row during which they managed to avoid major supply cuts to Europe.
- In June 2010 Russia cut gas supplies to Belarus by 15 percent, pressing its neighbor to pay a $192 million debt and raising the possibility of a reduction in flows to Europe.
- In November 2011, Russia agreed to slash gas prices for Belarus by 40 percent and lend Minsk $10 billion to build a nuclear plant in return for Gazprom’s acquisition of 100 percent in Belarus gas pipeline operator Beltransgaz and a deepening of their existing free-trade zone. Russia also wants Ukraine to be a part of the Customs Union.
Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; Additional writing by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit; Editing by Anthony Barker
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