Slovak gas utility SPP has registered around a 10% drop in the volumes of Russian gas coming to it via Ukraine, for the third day in a row, the company spokesman Peter Bednar said today.
Even though the situation in east Ukraine has calmed with a cease-fire in place and captives being exchanged etc., there are fears that come winter Russia could turn off the gas valve to Ukraine, especially as the European Union imposed yet another round of sanctions on Russia over the conflict today. The sanctions will affect also Russian gas giant Gazprom.
SPP assures customers that it will continue to provide continuous supplies of gas, but the last time Russia halted supplies to Ukraine, Ukraine took some of the gas intended for the rest of Europe. Several countries, including Slovakia, had to shut down industry and adopt other measures to get through the crisis.
This time the drop in supplies could be a kind of forewarning from Moscow in the wake of the new sanctions, as Poland received around 20% less gas from Russia on Wednesday and Germany operator E.ON also declared it had registered a smaller volume.
Gazprom explained the reduced volumes of supplied gas by saying it was doing what it could “according to the resources available for exports and for the continuing pumping to storage facilities in the Russian Federation”
Even though Slovakia has underground storage reserves and can deploy the so-called reverse flow option to get gas from the west, it has limited options if Russia were to pull the plug and if the broken relations between Russia and Western Europe take longer than hoped to be resolved. The European Union is reliant on Russia for about a third of all its gas, but Slovakia and other countries are much more dependent.