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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

'Gas row sullies Russia's reputation'

15 January 20098 - Upstream OnLine - German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Russia today that its row with Ukraine is risking its reputation as a reliable energy supplier, while the the International Energy Agency's (IEA) chief economist went a step further, saying Moscow had already lost status as a dependable source of energy. The IEA's Fatih Birol made the comment during a conference in Madrid. Earlier today, Merkel told reporters at a news conference with UK Prime MInister Gordon Brown: "I think there is a risk that confidence in Russia could be lost in the long run. "I will talk tomorrow with the Russian prime minister on this issue." Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is due to visit Germany tomorrow and meet with Merkel. Meanwhile, Turkey's Energy Minister Hilmi Guler said it is unclear when Russian gas will start flowing through the country's western pipeline. Guler was speaking to Reuters today after returning from talks in Moscow with Russian officials. A source from the Energy Ministry had said earlier in the week that the Russian gas flow on the western line would begin flowing today and reach normal levels by Friday. Supplies from Russia, which provides a quarter of Europe's gas, fell last week amid a dispute with Ukraine, through which most pipelines travel. Russia began pumping gas destined for Europe via Ukraine on Tuesday, but the European Union has said that little or no Russian gas had reached countries affected, including Turkey. "The natural gas crisis is serious, but we are managing the problem," Guler said. Russia cut gas flows on its trans-Balkan link - which also serves Turkey - on 6 January. The pipeline normally carries about 40 million cubic metres per day, while another line, Blue Stream, carries 35 MMcmd. Flows on Blue Stream have not been disrupted. Turkey and its six European partners remain committed to Nabucco, a gas pipeline project aimed at diversifying the EU's supply of the fuel, Guler added.

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