The saga continues...

---update ----

Slovak officials said later on Wednesday
that they had secured new supplies to cover
consumption until the end of January.
Slovakia, which gets almost all its gas from
Russia, declared a state of emergency on
January 6th, under which gas deliveries to
large clients were reduced, causing about 1,000
companies to shut down or cut production.
Fico said that the Slovak government had
stressed Ukraine’s responsibility for the crisis
and said it had “negatively affected Ukraine’s


Here in Bratislava the government is already being aided by Austria and Germany as well as France in terms of Gas shipments. Nobody has noticed any difference in heating and all is normal for now.

However right after this crisis is over I think its high time that we extend the western european gas pipeline that reaches as far as Vienna which is just a few kilometers from the slovak border and Bratislava. The supplier countries on that side are many but chiefly Algeria.

The EU needs to understand Slovak concerns and allow the nuclear plant at bohunice to switch on at full capacity. It is in good condition and has been modernised because Slovakia was hoping that it would be okayed by the austrians that are chiefly against re-opening it.

of course the minute the crisis is over Slovakia would mothball the plant again.


Ukraine, Russia Agree to Hold Gas Talks in Moscow on Jan. 17

By Kateryna Choursina
Jan. 15 (Bloomberg) -- The governments of Ukraine and Russia will meet on Jan. 17 in Moscow in an attempt to resolve the natural gas dispute which has disrupted deliveries of the fuel to European Union for nine days.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin discussed gas supplies and agreed on the meeting by phone at midnight yesterday, according to a statement on the Ukrainian government Web site today.

Timoshenko sent a telegram to Putin guaranteeing Ukraine will ship to European countries all gas supplied by Russia to Ukrainian pipes “apart from 8 percent of gas used to fuel gas pumping,” according to the statement.

Talks between Ukraine and Russia on the price for gas deliveries to Ukraine and transit fee Russia pays for shipments to Europe via Ukrainian pipes have reached deadlock. Russia cut all deliveries to Ukrainian consumers on Jan. 1 and stopped supplying gas to Europe on Jan. 7.

Gas, Putin, and EU. Russia turns the gas back on in all probability on Monday

Jan. 11 (Bloomberg) -- OAO Gazprom said it’s ready to resume supplies of natural gas to Europe from Russia once an EU-brokered accord on monitoring transit via Ukraine is enacted, potentially ending days of disruption amid freezing temperatures.

Russia’s state-run gas exporter will restart shipments “when the observers are in place,” Sergei Kupriyanov, Gazprom’s spokesman, said by text message today.

Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, acting for the European Union, secured a three-way agreement enabling monitors to check flows into Ukraine’s pipelines from Russia. Gazprom, supplier of a quarter of Europe’s gas, halted transit on Jan. 7, accusing Ukraine of siphoning fuel after it cut supplies to Russia’s neighbor amid a price and debt dispute. Ukraine denied the charge.

If all “goes well”, the monitors may be in place today, Topolanek told reporters in Prague today. The EU, Russia and Ukraine agreed to provide as many as 25 observers each to the mission.
“Ukraine is going to have to put its cards on the table,” Ronald Smith, chief strategist with Moscow-based Alfa Bank, said today. “It will be apparent who is telling the truth. With the monitors it will be very clear what’s going on. On the pricing side there’s no reason for Ukraine not to pay market-based prices for its gas.”

Serious Situation
Once gas starts to flow in Ukraine, it may take about 36 hours for it to reach EU states, where in some the situation is “serious,” Topolanek said. The Czech Republic has called an energy council meeting for all EU members tomorrow in Brussels, Industry Minister Martin Riman said.
E.ON AG expects full deliveries of gas three days after the fuel enters Ukraine, Kai Krischnak, spokesman for the German utility’s Essen-based E.ON Ruhrgas AG gas division said today. E.ON has “no information” on when Gazprom plans to resume shipments, he said. Poland is yet to receive any news on when supplies may flow via Ukraine, Joanna Zakrzewsk, a spokeswoman for Polskie Gornictwo Naftowe i Gazownictwo SA, said today.

The shutdown renewed calls in the 27-nation EU to develop nuclear power and alternative sources of energy. Fuel supplies are dwindling as temperatures as low as minus 15 degrees Celsius (5 degrees Fahrenheit) in the Balkans spur energy demand.
“Ukraine signed the protocol so that Ukraine is not a barrier for Russia to resume gas deliveries to the European Union,” Timoshenko told reporters after the accord’s signing during the night.

No Confirmation
Gazprom is yet to receive “even a copy” of the document signed in Kiev, the company said in a statement today. Chief Executive Officer Alexei Miller said yesterday flows would resume once the gas producer received confirmation that Ukraine had signed the accord. Czech Prime Minister Topolanek, whose country holds the EU’s sixth-month rotating presidency, said today the agreement is being distributed.

European monitors started arriving in the Ukrainian capital two days ago as they sought to defuse the dispute that has affected at least 20 countries.

One group of observers arrived today in the eastern city of Luhansk near a compressor station and one is en route to a station in the northern town of Sudzha, Valentin Zemlyanskyi, a spokesman for state-run energy company NAK Naftogaz Ukrainy, said by phone today. Three other groups should be in their posts in the south and west of Ukraine by 6 p.m. tonight, he said.
Gazprom’s European customers receive 80 percent of supplies through pipelines that cross Ukraine. Gazprom halted transit flows on Jan. 7, cutting overall deliveries to Europe were cut by about 60 percent, after accusing Ukraine of diverting gas intended for other buyers for its own use, a charge denied by the country. Supplies from Russia to Ukraine itself were suspended Jan. 1 pending a new contract.

The Slovak government yesterday approved the restart of a nuclear reactor, in the face of opposition from the European Union, to meet the country’s energy needs as the halt in Russian gas supplies continued.

Prime Minister Robert Fico told reporters the move would be for a “necessary” period until the gas market stabilizes. The reactor in Jaslovske Bohunice was closed Dec. 31 as part of the conditions imposed on Slovakia when it joined the EU.

Slovak Finance minister is awarded ‘Best Finance Minister in Europe for 2008’

THE BRITISH monthly banking and finance periodical The Banker, part of the Financial Times Group, has awarded Finance Minister Jan Pociatek the prestigious title ‘Best Finance Minister in Europe for 2008’.

In its latest issue, the magazine mentioned Pociatek’s work in preparing the country for the adoption of the euro and underlined his efforts to maintain the longterm sustainability of Slovakia’s public finances.

Previous Slovak finance ministers to be awarded by an international publication are Brigita Schmognerova in 2000 and Ivan Miklos in 2004, who were both named ‘Finance Minister of the Year’ by Euromoney magazine.

Gas and russian supplies to the EU

As many of you may or may not know, Slovakia is a major transit hub of russian gas to many EU countries. It seems that Vladimir Putin is seeking to discover the limits of Gas diplomacy.

In all of this bullying behaviour one can see that it is increasingly a set of actions that fits with a russia that is stunned by the sudden decline of oil prices and therefore revenues. This has suddenly made its clout decline rapidly and created looming internal problems.

Slovakia's PM past friendly approach to Russia within the confines of overarching EU diplomatic policies seems prescient. It seems that we will be spared the revenge of Russia for pro-bush stances in basing missile bases in Czech republic and Poland.

I believe Fico's approach has been pragmatic and logical, small countries should not seek to take on former superpowers. In that miscalculation Poland are beginning to take care of US interests (albeit the powermad GW BUSH ones) in the region, for little in return.

This analysis below seems to back this up..

ANALYSTS have noted that
Russian gas supplies have played a
prominent role in Russian foreign
policy in the past, and the fact that
the Czech Republic and Poland
seem to have been singled out for
the most severe reductions in gas
supplies at the height of the winter
season is no coincidence, given
their support for the US plan to
station so-called Star Wars missile
batteries on their territories.
Until Tuesday, Slovakia had
appeared not to have been targeted
for the most severe reductions
in gas supplies, possibly as a
reward for not supporting the US
missile plan, which Russia says
is offensive and not defensive in
nature. Another factor in the gas
war is that the Czech Republic has
just assumed the presidency of the
European Union.
Given its right-wing pro-US
government and the fact that
until 20 years ago Czechoslovakia
was a docile member of the
Warsaw Pact, the Russian move
to cut supplies to New European
countries has great historical
The most recent Russian-
Ukrainian spat over alleged nonpayment
of bills for gas supplies
has provided the Kremlin with a
wide range of opportunities to flex
its energy muscles in pursuit of a
much bigger political agenda.