US expects an unprecedented "gas war" between Russia and Belarus
31 июля 2009, 16:52
ESAI (Energy Security Analysis), an American research firm, forecasts disruption of gas flows across Ukraine and Belarus during the upcoming winter.
According to report of the company, Ukraine and Belarus, which are vital transit states for oil and gas flows to Europe, are currently contributing to tensions in gas relations that can suspend Russian oil supplies to one or both, Trend Capital reports.
According to ESAI, current strife in relations runs much deeper.
Tension between Russian and Belarus increased after Alyaksandr Lukashenka had said that disputable issues often occur in relations between both countries. For the first time in three years, the Belarusian ruler met with heads of all foreign diplomatic missions in Belarus to inform them about new foreign political priorities of the country. "Tensions have mounted since then, and the dispute has spread to multiple political and economic issues, including energy," the ESAI report says.
The US Company does not rule out the possibility of a rupture in relations with Russia that could lead to the disruption of oil and gas flows to Europe.
There is a precedent for the disruption of oil flows, the report says. In January 2007, Belarus slapped a tariff on oil transit, which caused Russia to briefly cut oil flows.
Usually Belarus and Russia resolve their differences and remind the world of their special relations. The current bout of tensions between Belarus and Russia, with the former warming to Europe, may portend an unprecedented rupture, he ESAI report runs.
Regarding Ukraine, ESAI said that Ukraine's failure to pay for gas reduces its chances to tackle the crisis. At present, Gazprom demands full payment for gas one week after the end of each month.
"Ukraine is under pressure to increase domestic gas prices, which would help pay for Russian gas deliveries and is a condition for Ukraine to borrow money to finance gas purchases. Raising gas prices in the midst of a recession and in an election year will not be easy. It is unlikely Ukraine’s leaders can skilfully steer clear of the crisis," the report said.