Jan 5, 2009
Well the biggest story since the new year started a few days ago: GAS
I dare anyone to pick up a major newspaper today and not read something about the gas disruptions in Eastern Europe, which are a result of the financial disputes between Ukraine and Gazprom. Ukraine failed to pay $2.1 billion in gas debts. Ukraine said it paid $1.5 billion but was disputing more than $600 million in late fees. Gazprom stopped deliveries and now everyone else must suffer.
Several countries are reporting between 15% and 30% drops in gas pressure. Meanwhile, it's been pretty cold, below 0, most nights. Here are the areas and countries that claim to be affected: the Balkans, the Czech Republic (the current seat of the EU presidency), Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Turkey.
According to the New York Times, Germany (the largest consumer of Russian gas) has not yet reported any problems. Seems suspicious...just saying.
There are several parties to blame on this one and I am more than reluctant to take a side. My gut response is to view the situation through a capitalist lens. Customers (Ukraine) gotta pay, but companies (Gazprom)gotta provide to paying customers (the rest of Eastern Europe), and it's the responsibility of the company to ensure the means to provide its service. So, Ukraine, pay up. Gazprom, this is not the first time this has happened, let's develop a crisis plan already.