Belarus gas row will not disrupt Europe supplies: Gazprom

(MOSCOW) - Russian gas giant Gazprom vowed Tuesday that Europe would not see any disruptions in gas supplies after transit nation Belarus said it would shut down the flow of Russian gas in a debt row.

Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov said Russia could ramp up supplies through Ukraine -- itself a target of Russian pressure in past gas conflicts -- and that gas stored in Europe could be tapped, among other options.

"There are no problems. We are convinced that our European customers will receive all necessary gas supplies in accordance with our contracts regardless of Minsk's actions," Kupriyanov said.

"Gazprom has begun exploring the possibilities of alternative gas supply for our customers in Europe," he said in comments released by the company.

"First and foremost -- these are supplies through Ukraine.... Second are the possibilities of using gas from underground storage facilities in Europe and a spot market."

Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko ordered the shutdown of transit of Russian gas to Europe Tuesday after Russia cut supplies to Belarus by 30 percent over a debt of nearly 200 million dollars.

Gazprom has threatened to cut yet more supplies if the debt is not settled.

Lukashenko for his part said Gazprom owed his country 260 million dollars in transit fees.

Kupriyanov said the shutdown of transit was not justified.

"This is our pipeline which belongs to Gazprom," he said.

Gazprom's Yamal pipeline that carries energy supplies to Europe runs through Belarus. Gazprom also has a 50-percent stake in Belarussian pipeline operator Beltransgaz.


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