The Paw Print
Ukraine has accumulated over $2 billion in natural gas debt over the recent years. Under the current political and economical hostility between Ukraine and Russia, this serves as an additional reason for the tension to keep being high in the region. The European Commissioner for Energy in the European Commission, Günther Hermann Oettinger, has officially expressed his opinion on this major energy problem, pointing out the importance of EU in helping Ukraine to cover this debt.
His main concerns are for a potential “natural gas war” between Russia and the West. He also stated that his main objective is to not let a political and energy problem like this to occur and to provide the energy security that all of the EU countries need for the upcoming winter season 2014-2015. The potential negative outcomes for the whole EU for not helping Ukraine in paying off this debt could be really severe.
Russia may chose to cut off the natural gas supply for any Ukrainian energy companies. However, besides all of the negative aspects that this could have for Ukraine, there are just as many more that concern the majority of the Western countries in Europe (Germany, Austria, France, United Kingdom etc.).
The reason for that is that Ukraine is an incredibly important transit country, through which the Russian gas has been transported to the countries in the European Union. Günther Hermann Oettinger warned that a potentially complicated regulatory process would have to be established if these predictions come true.
This will inevitably hurt even strong economies like the German one. Oettinger’s main appeal was to the countries in the EU, concerning their energy relations with Russia. He assured them to not put any restrictions or limits to their energy supplies from Russia, and to also find any other countries that can serve as a natural gas supplier in the near and long term future.
Some of the potential candidates to take Russia’s spot as the main big gas supplier in the EU are Norway, Algiers, and Azerbaijan.