PARIS, March 6 (UPI) -- The International Energy Agency said it is keeping close watch over natural gas transits through Ukraine to Europe, but hasn't observed a physical disruption.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev this week warned Ukraine may face consequences because of its outstanding debt obligations to Russian energy company Gazprom.
Europe gets about a quarter of its natural gas from Russia, though the majority of that runs through the Soviet-era pipeline network in Ukraine. Gazprom in 2009 cut natural gas supplies through Ukraine because of debt issues, though IEA said in a briefing Wednesday there has been "no physical disruption in supplies of crude oil or natural gas transiting Ukraine to Europe."
The European community in response to the 2009 debt row started looking to diversify its energy market. IEA said gas transit through Ukraine to Europe increased 4.3 percent from 2012 to 2.9 trillion cubic feet, though last year's imports were 16.9 percent less than 2011.
From sources other than Russia, IEA said natural gas imports from Iran and Azerbaijan increased 12 percent from 2012 to 459 billion cubic feet last year.
By 2019, European consumers are expected to get significantly more natural gas from Azerbaijan, an integral part of the Southern Corridor of gas transit options meant to break Russia's grip on the energy sector.
IEA didn't provide details about gas imports from Iran, which is limited in terms of export options by Western economic sanctions.