Russians may leave gas bill unpaid

Greece faces a legal battle, along with more than a dozen other European countries, to secure compensation from Russian natural gas giant Gazprom for its failure to supply the fuel as a result of a dispute with Ukraine, it emerged yesterday. Hopes that gas supplies to 15 countries would be resumed were dashed yesterday as Gazprom blocked deliveries, saying that Ukraine was not passing the gas on. Greece has been cut off since last Wednesday and it now appears that Gazprom might not compensate its customers. The CEO of the Greek Public Gas Corporation (DEPA), Makis Papageorgiou, told Kathimerini that the company received a letter from Gazprom in which it described the situation as «an act of God.» This suggests the Russians have no intention of compensating DEPA, or any other European gas firms, for the lack of supply over the last week. It is thought that compensation would currently amount to a total of some 1 billion euros. Papageorgiou said that DEPA’s contract with Gazprom states the Russian firm will pay up if it cannot supply the agreed amounts of gas. He added that DEPA would take legal action once supplies resume. Greece has been boosting its reserves with shipments of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and should have enough fuel to cover demand until the end of the month, according to DEPA. In a related development yesterday, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin telephoned his Greek counterpart Costas Karamanlis to ask him, according to sources, to speak to other European Union leaders and convince the 27-nation block to put pressure on Ukraine to change its stance. Such a move appears unlikely, especially as the EU is treating the dispute as a bilateral matter.

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