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Page last updated at 10:54 GMT, Thursday, 8 January 2009

Gas cut: How Europe is coping

Firewood chopper in Sofia
Firewood sellers in Sofia are preparing for greater demand

Many European countries have been hit by a sudden cut in Russian gas supplies, as sub-zero temperatures coincide with a Russian-Ukrainian row over energy prices. The impact has been felt especially severely in the Balkans.

Most of the countries affected are in the European Union. How are they coping?

AUSTRIA

No more Russian natural gas is being delivered to Austria, the country's energy group OMV says. Deliveries had already plunged by about 90% on Tuesday in Austria.

OMV says it has about 1.75bn cubic metres of natural gas in storage - enough to cover Austrian domestic demand for three months during the winter.

Austria gets about 70% of its gas from Russia, according to 2006 figures cited by the European Council on Foreign Relations think-tank.

Temperature: About -3C in Vienna on Thursday.

BOSNIA-HERCEGOVINA

Bosnia-Hercegovina says its supplies of Russian gas stopped on Tuesday. It gets all of its gas from Russia, via pipelines across Ukraine and Hungary.

Bosnia's operator BH Gas says the country has no gas reserves and has advised consumers to use other fuels or cut back on their gas use, Reuters reports.

In the capital Sarajevo electric heaters sold out within hours and about 72,000 households now lack heating, the AP news agency reports. Many people have moved in with friends or relatives whose homes are heated by fuel oil or electricity.

Heavy gas users in industry and services are reported to be switching to alternative fuels where possible.

Temperature: About -5C in Sarajevo on Thursday.

BULGARIA

Bulgaria reported on Tuesday that its supplies of Russian gas - delivered via a pipeline across Ukraine - had halted. Bulgaria gets more than 80% of its gas from Russia.

Bulgaria has started rationing gas supplies to industry, warning that stocks may run out in a matter of days.

Several thousand households in eastern Bulgaria are now without gas heating, and there have been household reductions across the country. Dozens of schools were shut and some companies were closed on Wednesday.

The situation is acute because Bulgaria lacks alternative gas supplies and has only modest reserves, President Georgi Purvanov says. He has suggested restarting a reactor at the Kozloduy nuclear power station, which was partially shut down on safety grounds as a condition of Bulgaria's EU accession in 2007.

Two towns in eastern Bulgaria - Varna and Dobrich - are reported to be totally lacking gas supplies.

Temperature: About -4C in Sofia on Thursday.

CROATIA

Croatia says its supplies of Russian gas halted early on Tuesday, resumed at about 20% of the normal level in the afternoon, then halted again overnight into Wednesday.

The economy ministry has declared a crisis and says gas deliveries to big industrial consumers have been reduced. It is giving priority to homes, schools and hospitals.

Croatia itself produces nearly half of the natural gas it needs, but most of the rest is imported from Russia.

Temperature: About -3C in Zagreb on Thursday.

CZECH REPUBLIC

Czech officials say the country's supplies of Russian gas halted completely overnight into Wednesday. The Czech Republic gets more than 80% of its gas from Russia.

Czech gas importer RWE Transgas, quoted by Reuters, says it has reserves equal to 40 days' consumption. It has started using the reserves and is getting extra supplies via a separate pipeline bringing mainly Norwegian gas.

Temperature: About -6C in Prague on Thursday.

FRANCE

There has been a surge in demand for gas and electricity as temperatures in some areas have dropped as low as -10C, but French officials say there are no short-term supply problems.

GDF Suez, the leading French gas supplier, says it has enough reserves to last for more than 80 days of normal consumption. Russian gas represents only 16% of the gas consumed in France.

France is less dependent on gas than many of its neighbours because nuclear power covers 80% of its electricity needs.

Nevertheless, GDF Suez said it was trying to boost gas imports from Norway, rerouting liquefied natural gas tankers to France and drawing on its 15 gas depots in France.

Temperature: About -2C in Paris on Thursday.

GERMANY

German officials say supplies of Russian gas have dropped but there will be no immediate hardship for consumers.

Energy provider E.ON Ruhrgas says shortages might arise if there is a prolonged stoppage combined with continuing freezing weather. Energy-heavy industries could be hurt in that case, it says.

Another major German supplier, Wingas, says its customers will not be hit because its imports from Russia come via Belarus and Poland.

Germany gets nearly half of its gas from Russia. Germany and Italy together account for nearly half of all the Russian gas consumed in the EU.

Temperature: About -7C in Berlin on Thursday.

HUNGARY

Hungary reported a complete halt of Russian gas supplies on Tuesday. It gets 40% of its gas through the trans-Ukraine pipeline.

Hungary has reduced gas supplies to heavy industrial users, advising them to switch to other fuels if possible.

Suzuki car manufacturer has suspended production at its factory in the west of the country.

Temperature: About -6C in Budapest on Thursday.

ITALY

Italy has been left without the 60m cubic metres of gas that it imports daily via the Trans-Austria gas pipeline - that is, 30% of its daily methane needs, Italy's Rai television reports. Italy has boosted its use of gas reserves by 57% in the current crisis.

In recent years Italy has increased its imports of gas from North Africa, reducing its energy dependency on Russia.

Temperature: About 6C in Rome on Thursday.

SERBIA

Serbia's Srbijagas, which imports 92% of its natural gas from Russia, says it has about 10 days' reserves left. Belgrade's electricity generators have switched to using fuel oil, and have urged consumers to economise on their use of electricity.

Hungary turned down a request from Srbijagas to provide a gas "loan" to replenish Serbia's stocks, Serbia's B92 Radio reports. Hungary only pledged to release gas for Serbia as soon as Russia and Ukraine reach a deal.

Srbijagas says it is still managing to keep the heating on in Belgrade and Novi Sad, but warns that "this cannot last forever". The government has told electricity suppliers to reduce public lighting in cities.

Temperature: About -5C in Belgrade on Thursday.

SLOVAKIA

Slovakia declared a state of energy emergency on Tuesday after supplies of Russian gas plunged by 70%. The country normally gets all of its gas from Russia - yet no more is coming now.

Economy Minister Lubomir Jahnatek vowed that the gas disruption would not hit households, hospitals and schools.

France's car manufacturer Peugeot Citroen suspended production at its factory in the west of the country.

Prime Minister Robert Fico called for a nuclear reactor at the Jaslovske Bohunice power station - closed only a week ago - to be reconnected to the grid.

Temperature: About -4C in Bratislava on Thursday.

TURKEY

Supplies of Russian gas via the trans-Ukraine pipeline have halted. But the government says it is increasing the flow through an alternative pipeline, under the Black Sea, to compensate.

Turkey gets about 65% of its gas from Russia and about one-third of its daily supply has now been cut. But the government says it has sufficient gas stocks to avoid immediate economic hardship.

Temperature: About -3C in Ankara on Thursday.

UKRAINE

Russia halted its gas supplies to Ukraine on New Year's Day. Russia's energy giant Gazprom accused Ukraine on Tuesday of shutting down the export pipelines that take gas to European countries.

On Wednesday, Moscow said it had officially cut off its gas supplies for Europe via Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Ukraine denies Russian claims that it has been stealing gas intended for customers in the EU.

Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko insisted on Wednesday that since 1 January "Ukraine has been consuming only gas it produces itself and gas from underground storage facilities".

Ukraine has about 16bn cubic metres of gas in an underground storage system and the government does not expect any shortages until early April.

Temperature: About -6C in Kiev on Thursday.



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