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Ukraine looks to help ease EU gas concerns

Feb. 6, 2012 at 8:13 AM

KIEV, Ukraine, Feb. 6 (UPI) -- Ukrainian state energy company Naftogaz is tapping into stored reserves to help bring heat to European consumers coping with arctic cold, officials said.

Much of northern European is in the grips of a brutal winter blast. Temperatures in parts of the region are below 22 degrees Fahrenheit and much of Europe is buried in snow.

Russian energy company Gazprom said last the weekend it wasn't able to keep up with the surging demand for natural gas.

Andrey Kruglov, deputy chief executive at Gazprom, was quoted by Russia's state-run news agency RIA Novosti as saying his company wasn't "able to meet the additional gas volumes requested by our partners in western Europe."

European consumers get about 20 percent of their natural gas from Russia though about 80 percent of that travels through the gas transit system in Ukraine.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov was quoted by the news agency as saying Ukraine was willing to help meet growing demand "if (Gazprom) finds it necessary."

A source close to Ukraine's oil and gas company Naftogaz told the Interfax news agency the company increased access to natural gas stored in underground storage facilities in an effort to meet growing European demand.

The BBC reports at least 100 people died from weather-related causes in Ukraine alone.

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