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Could Ireland be hit by Russia's gas supply cuts?

Russia today reduced it's gas flow to Europe via the Ukraine to a quarter of normal levels. Russian energy firm Gazprom said the cut was designed to compensate for the gas it claims Ukraine is illegally siphoning off. Ukraine denies the allegations.

So far, eastern European nations - principally Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey and Macedonia - have been hit hardest by the cuts as temperatures in the region drop to as low as -15 degrees.

According to RTE, Bord Gais has denied Ireland will be affected. The Irish semi-state company said that Ireland's gas is sourced from the Kinsale gas field, and British and Noregian fields in the North Sea.

However, writing in Construct Ireland last year, Richard Douthwaite noted that the gas fields off Cork are practically exhausted, with almost all of our gas now coming from Britain.  Britain's own North Sea reserves are quickly depleting though, and the country is becoming increasingly reliant on pipelines bringing gas from the Norweigan North Sea, Belgium and the Netherlands.

However, the main source of gas for both the Belgian and Dutch pipelines which supply Britain - and thus Ireland - is Russia. While it's not clear how much of Ireland's gas supply orginates in Russia, it's likely that Ireland will increasingly rely on Russian gas as fields off Cork and in the North Sea decline, though the coming on-stream of the Corrib gas field is expected to ease our supply problems somewhat.

 Until Ireland has heavily reduced it's reliance on imported gas, we should not expect to be immune to future Russian cuts. While France holds 122 days of gas in storage and Germany 99, Britain holds 13 days worth of gas and Ireland just two. 

Last modified on Wednesday, 07 January 2009 11:46