The unusually low temperature conditions prevailing in Europe for the past one week have boosted the demand for gas supplies forcing Russian gas provider Gazprom to reduce the volume of its deliveries.
Europe gets a quarter of its gas imports from Gazprom, but the company said on Wednesday that it was getting more orders from Europe than it could physically accommodate. Plus the surge in demand from domestic Russian market for heating in the wake of the record-low temperature conditions has forced the company to restrict its supplies to Europe.
Despite increasing gas consumption in Russia due to heavy frosts, Gazprom continues implementing its contactual obligations to European clients, the company said in e-mailed comments to Reuters.
Unable to fulfill the demand from the European market, the Russian gas company has cut down the quantities of gas supplied through the Yamal-Europe pipeline by 10 percent. Over 4,000 kilometers long, the pipeline’s Russian portion is owned by Gazprom.
While the European Commission has ensured that EU companies have sufficient natural gas reserves to make up for any deficient supply of Russian gas, the record cold weather is estimated to raise European gas and power prices with increasing energy demand for heating, as temperatures are expected to stay below freezing point, according to Europe's weather warning service, Meteoalarm.
A Siberian system swept across from the east bringing the whole of Europe, which was enjoying a relatively mild winter condition, under the grip of the cold snap. German met office DWD said on Tuesday that the icy high pressure front from northern Russia is expected to last well into next week.
So far, the “big freeze” in Europe has claimed about 120 lives with deaths reported from Eastern Europe, Romania and Bulgaria.
A few recent pictures below show the freezing weather of Europe.
A woman walks on snow at a suburb as temperatures dropped to below zero degrees Celsius in Athens Feb. 1, 2012. REUTERS/John Kolesidis
A woman walks through the snow at the Feldberg mountain in Schmitten, 25km (16 miles) north-west of Frankfurt, Feb. 1, 2012. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach
A man walks in the snow on a cold winter day in the wood of Chalet-a-Gobet in Lausanne Feb. 2, 2012. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
A chapel on the Taubenberg mountain in Warngau is framed by frozen leafs on Feb. 2, 2012. REUTERS/Michael Dalder
A man walks under heavy snow in Baku Feb. 2, 2012. REUTERS/Osman Karimov