Gazprom responding to regional debt issues

July 29, 2013 at 7:17 AM

MOSCOW, July 29 (UPI) -- Russian energy company Gazprom said it may cut natural gas supplies to 13 national regions as a last resort to settle debt issues.

Thirteen regions, ranging from parts of Moscow to the North Caucasus republic of Kabardino-Balkar, were added to a list of troubled debtors by Gazprom, Russian news agency ITAR-Tass reported.

The report said the Moscow region had one of the heaviest debts to the Russian energy company with an estimated $320 million.

Gazprom in 2009 shut off gas supplies to Ukraine because of issues related to debt. That affected downstream consumers in the European Union because 80 percent of their Russian natural gas runs through Ukrainian pipelines built during the Soviet era.

The Russian report Monday said natural gas supply disruptions or cut offs are a last resort taken only when debtors ignore court orders or are otherwise estranged from Gazprom. ITAR-Tass reported while Moscow has the highest amount of debt, its shutdown would be minimal because utilities there are actively working on their debt obligations with Gazprom.

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