Belarus and the European Commission have played down fears that gas supplies to Western Europe could be effected by a dispute between Moscow and Minsk over an unpaid bill.
Russia yesterday reduced its gas flow to its neighbour, triggering alarm that others may have their supplies disrupted.
“Certainly, we are taking all measures so that at least the transit will remain safe, so that the customers, will not feel any cuts or supply changes,” said Eduard Tovpenets who is Belarus’s Deputy Energy Minister.
Russian gas transit via Belarus amounts to one-tenth of Europe’s needs, totalling around 45 million cubic metres a day.
Marlene Holzner of the European Commission said: “Under the hypothesis that Belarus will really cut the supply to Europe, three countries may be affected. First is Lithuania; they depend 100% on Russian deliveries transited through Belarus. The second country which may be affected is Poland and the third one is Germany, but they only in a indirect way.”
Belarus says it will pay the 150 million euros bill as soon as it can but that might not be before autumn.
In the meantime it promises not to pass on less gas to Europe to make up any shortfall in its own supplies.