Russian gas deliveries to Poland through Ukraine fell further on Saturday, dropping by 5 million cubic metres a day, but deliveries through Belarus made up for the shortfall, the director of gas operator Gaz System said.

Tadeusz Abramowicz told a news conference that Poland could import an additional 2 million cubic metres of gas a day through Belarus should the row between Russia and Ukraine cause furher declines in gas supply.

“The volume imported through Ukraine dropped by 11 percent, or 5 million cubic metres, we have increased imports through Belarus by that amount,” Abramowicz said. “We are able to get 2 million cubic metres more from that direction.”

On Friday the operator reported a 6 percent drop in supplies through Ukraine.
Gazprom halted supplies to Ukraine on New Year’s Day, saying Ukraine had failed to pay its gas bill and talks on 2009 gas prices had broken down.

Three years after a similar dispute briefly disrupted supplies, European fears of gas flows dropping off in the dead of winter were once again becoming a reality.

Poland is heavily dependent on Russian natural gas, importing nearly two-thirds of its 14 billion cubic metres a year consumption from that country. About 40 percent of that gas is shipped via Ukraine.

The gas monopoly PGNiG said earlier that its storage tanks were 85 percent full, enough to supply Polish customers for weeks if supplies stopped altogether.

(Reuters)