Russia’s Gazprom cuts gas supplies to Latvia


A senior Latvian official says a move will have little effect as the Baltic country has already decided to ban Russian gas imports from January.

Russian gas producer Gazprom has said it has stopped shipping gas to Latvia after accusing the country of violating delivery terms.

Russia has already stopped gas supplies to Poland, Bulgaria, Finland, the Netherlands and Denmark, which refused to pay for gas in accordance with an order from President Vladimir Putin requiring the establishment of ruble accounts at a Russian bank.

Russia has also stopped gas sales to Shell Energy Europe in Germany.

In a statement on Saturday, Gazprom did not specify what gas supply conditions Latvia, a member of the European Union-NATO military alliance bordering Russia, had allegedly violated.

Edijs Saicans, deputy state secretary for energy policy at the Latvian Ministry of Economy, said Gazprom’s move would have little effect, as Latvia has already decided to ban Russian gas imports from January 1, 2023.

“We don’t see any major consequences of such a move,” he said.

Gazprom’s announcement came a day after Latvian energy company Latvijas Gaze said it was buying gas from Russia and paying in euros instead of the rubles needed to trade with Gazprom.

However, a spokesperson for Latvijas Gaze said on Friday that it did not buy gas from Gazprom. Latvijas Gaze declined to name his Russian provider, citing business confidentiality.

Latvijas Gaze did not immediately respond to a request for comment following Gazprom’s announcement on Saturday.

EU countries agreed on an emergency ordinance on Tuesday to curb their gas use this winter, in preparation for a season of uncertain supplies from Russia.

In March, Putin said the world’s largest natural gas producer would require countries labeled “unfriendly” in their stance on Moscow’s actions in Ukraine to pay in rubles for mains gas.

The European Commission — which has warned compliance with Putin’s order could violate EU sanctions against Moscow — has urged companies to continue paying in the currency agreed in their contracts with Gazprom. Most are in euros or dollars.

Gazprom on Wednesday drastically cut gas supplies to Europe through the Nord Stream pipeline to about 20 percent of its capacity.

The Russian state-owned company had previously announced it would limit supplies to 33 million cubic meters per day – half the amount it has delivered since service resumed last week after 10 days of maintenance work.

The EU this week agreed on a plan to cut gas consumption in solidarity with Germany, where the Nord Stream pipeline runs, and warned of Russian “blackmail”.

EU countries accuse Russia of curtailing supplies in retaliation for Western sanctions over Moscow’s intervention in Ukraine.

Gazprom called the cessation of operation of one of the last two working turbines for the pipeline due to the “technical condition of the engine”.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has blamed EU sanctions for the limited supply.

“Technical pump capacities have decreased, more limited. Why? Because the process of maintaining technical devices is extremely complicated by the sanctions adopted by Europe,” Peskov said.

“Gazprom has been and continues to be a reliable guarantor for its obligations… but it cannot guarantee gas pumping if the imported devices cannot be serviced due to European sanctions,” he said.

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