Russia’s Gazprom to cut Finland off from its natural gas

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HR King
May 29, 2001
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Finland’s state-owned energy firm Gasum has announced that Russia’s Gazprom will cease supplying it with natural gas on Saturday. The move follows Finland’s official application for membership in NATO this week and a Russian energy company halting electricity exports to the nation.
Gasum chief executive Mika Wiljanen said Gazprom has informed Gasum that the gas will stop flowing at 7 a.m. local time on Saturday.
“It is highly regrettable that natural gas supplies under our supply contract will now be halted,” Wiljanen said. “However, we have been carefully preparing for this situation and provided that there will be no disruptions in the gas transmission network, we will be able to supply all our customers with gas in the coming months.”
Gasum said gas filling stations in Finland will maintain normal operations. It said it will now obtain gas through the Balticconnector pipeline, which links Finland to Estonia and gives it access to natural gas from Latvia.
Both Finland and neighboring Sweden made their bids to join NATO official this week, with Finland’s potential addition adding 800 miles of NATO member countries to Russia’s border. Their applications must ultimately be approved by each member nation, and although they appear to have widespread support, Turkey is balking.
According to Finnish state media, Gazprom had demanded that Gasum pay for the natural gas in Russian rubles, but Gasum worried that this would run afoul of sanctions against Russia, which the head of the European Commission confirmed. Gazprom has also halted exports to Bulgaria and Poland after making the same demand.
The move by Gazprom is perhaps the first major instance of Russian retaliation against Finland for its effort to join NATO. A Russian state-owned company halted electricity exports to Finland over the weekend, but it wasn’t clear that the move was intended to be punitive. As The Post’s Liz Sly reported, Russia lacks leverage in stopping Finland’s quest to join NATO.
Finland buys most of its natural gas from Russia, but natural gas accounts for only about 5 percent of Finnish energy consumption.