August 28, 2008
RUSSIAN FEDERATION – LONDON – Russia has cut oil and gas supplies to neighbours and indirectly to onward customers in recent years.
The following is a list of some supply interruptions and the reasons offered for them. The Swedish Defence Research Agency, a government-linked body, said in a report in March 2006 that Russia had cut off exports on around 40 occasions. Moscow denies that it uses energy as a political tool.
In a pricing dispute, Russia cut oil supplies to Belarus in January 2007 along the Druzhba, or Friendship, pipeline for three days, reducing exports to Germany and Poland.
Druzhba — which passes through Ukraine and Belarus — supplies Europe with around one tenth of its oil.
Russia’s state controlled Gazprom has also threatened to cut off gas supplies to Belarus in price disputes. Around 20 percent of Russia’s gas exports to Europe pass through Belarus.
In July 2006, Russia shut an oil pipeline to Lithuania’s Mazeikiu refinery, saying it needed to be repaired to avoid a leak.The pipeline has not restarted.
Lithuania said the shutdown is a politically motivated action after the country sold its Mazeikiu refinery to Poland’s PKN Orlen rather than to a Russian bidder.
Russian technical watchdog Rostekhnadzor said in September that pipeline company Transneft would need at least another 18 months for repairs, meaning the pipeline could not reopen before the end of 2009 at the earliest.
UKRAINE, JANUARY 2006
Ukraine has long haggled over how much it pays Russia for gas and the row came to world attention in January 2006, when it led Gazprom to halt supplies to Ukraine. Onward supplies to Italy, France, Croatia, Poland, Hungary, Germany and Romania fell sharply but were restored within days.
GEORGIA, JANUARY 2006
In January 2006, blasts on gas pipelines in Russia, just north of the Georgian border, cut off supplies to Georgia and Armenia. Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili blamed Russia for the blast. Russia blamed pro-Chechen insurgents.
In 2003, Russia closed an oil pipeline to Latvia’s Ventspils oil terminal.
Russian officials have said Ventspils had little hope of recovering its crude supplies following Russia’s expansion of its Primorsk facilities.
Russian oil firms used to ship 25 million tonnes of refined oil products a year, a quarter of their exports, via Estonia, but volumes fell after a dispute with Moscow.
Shipments of other commodities, including metals and coal, through Estonia have also been reduced.
Relations deteriorated after Estonia moved a memorial to World War Two Red Army soldiers from a site in the city centre to a military cemetery last year, triggering two nights of riots by local Russia speakers.
Extract from The Swedish Defence Research Agency report:
"Since 1991, the energy lever has been used for putting political or economic pressure on Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Georgia that subsequently affected most of Europe.
The number of incidents, i.e. cut-offs, take-overs, coercive price policy, blackmail or threats, is over fifty in total (of which about forty are cut-offs).
Incidents appear to be equally divided on the Yeltsin and Putin eras, but the number of cut-offs have decreased by half during Putin.
The immediate reasons for Russia’s coercive policy appear to be to coerce political concession in ongoing negotiations, commandeer infrastructure take-over, and execute economically favourable deals or to make political statements."
(Reporting by Tom Bergin, editing by Anthony Barker)