Friday, 16 January 2009

No Resolution to Gas Deal as of Yet

The Russia-Ukraine gas row still has not been resolved, it appears. The past several days were confusing, at best, in regards on what is happening to the gas supplies to Europe and Balkans in particular.
Economist provides some background information on the underlying situation. Also, a communication with some of my Russian friends enlightens the bareness of the whole gas situation between Russia and Ukraine. The whole gas network was built long ago when the circumstances were quite different. It was not meant to work under current circumstances and hence the confusion as to who owns whom. The gas network is a bit more tricky to provide quantification of the resources flowing through and is, obviously, easy to manipulate by either side.
For now it is still unclear as to what happens in the Balkan countries. Some central heating systems operate on heating oil. There is also some gas flowing in the pipelines. Serbia has arranged some gas to be supplied from Hungary and Germany. It was meant as an emergency measure at first but now it seems the supply was extended until January 20. Some of that gas is shared with Bosnia, thanks to President Tadic - a Serbian president who was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia.

The results of this issue are scary, at best. All the countries in the region have issued warnings that electrical power grids are under stress and the special attention is required to keep them up and running. Heating, despite having some gas, is not adequate and the temperatures being constantly below 0 do not help at all. At the same time, the air pollution is sky-rocketing because of use of alternative, cheaper and dirtier, sources.

I will be traveling to the region next week. If the situation does not change I'll have an opportunity to share some of the suffering with people there. :) All I can do is try to accumulate some of the heat we've recently had in Melbourne, with temperatures going up to 38 degrees Celsius. What a world.

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