* Poland says volumes being delivered down about a fifth
* Germany's E.ON reports slight reduction in volumes
* Gazprom saying shipping as much gas as it is able to
* EU fears that Ukraine row could spill over into gas war
By Adrian Krajewski and Wiktor Szary
WARSAW, Sept 10 Poland said on Wednesday it was
receiving 20 percent less gas than normal from Russia and a
German gas operator said its supplies of Russian gas were
Some European officials believe Moscow could use disruptions
to the gas deliveries on which Europe depends as its trump card
in a confrontation over Ukraine that has already brought ties
between Moscow and the West to their lowest since the Cold War.
Russian gas monopoly Gazprom issued a statement
saying it was pumping gas to all destinations "according to the
resources available for exports and for the continuing pumping
to storage facilities in the Russian Federation".
But Gazprom did not deny the levels of supply this week to
Poland - a former Communist country with which Moscow's
relations have chilled - were lower than they were previously.
The disruption comes as the European Union prepares to
impose a new round of sanctions on Russia over its intervention
in Ukraine, a step that Russian officials had warned would bring
consequences for Europe.
"This is a warning signal for the EU not to go any further
with the sanctions," said Pawel Poprawa of the Institute for
Energy Studies in Warsaw, when asked about the reduced gas
supplies to Poland.
Polish gas pipeline operator Gaz-System said the reduction
in supplies from Russia had forced it temporarily to stop
re-exporting natural gas to Ukraine.
Gazprom has halted supplies to Western-leaning Ukraine over
a pricing dispute, and the "reverse flows" from neighbouring EU
states are crucial for keeping Ukraine's economy afloat.
Russia meets around a third of European gas demand, sending
almost half of these supplies via Ukraine.
Most of the rest goes through the Yamal Europe route via
Poland and on to Germany as well as through the Nord Stream
pipeline, which goes directly from Russia to Germany under the
The disruption appeared to affect the Yamal Europe route
only, with no significant reduction reported in volumes being
shipped along other routes.
Polish gas monopoly PGNiG said that on Monday it
received around 20 percent less gas than contracted and around
24 percent less on Tuesday. It said customers had not been
affected for now, and the missing volumes were being met from
The company, in a statement, said it was seeking
clarification on why the volumes were reduced.
Germany's biggest utility, E.ON is facing
slightly reduced gas supplies from Russia, a spokesman for the
company said on Wednesday.
"This is not alarming due to well-stocked reserves and
sufficient availability on hubs," the spokesman said. He
declined to say by how much supplies were reduced in percentage
Under its contracts with customers, Gazprom has the right to
adjust the gas export flow, and European utility traders said
Wednesday's fluctuations were within contractual ranges.
The reduced volumes are unlikely to have a knock-on effect
for customers in Europe unless they drag on for weeks.
Mild temperatures mean that demand for fuel is relatively
low, and European operators have been building up reserves of
gas in storage in anticipation of possible disruptions.
Countries in central Europe which also receive gas from
Gazprom, but by other routes, reported that there was no
Slovakia, a major hub for Russia gas exports to Europe, said
volumes were slightly down but within the normal range.
Operators in Hungary, Bosnia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania said
there was no disruption to their supplies.
Ties between Warsaw and Moscow are tense.
Poland has lobbied the European Union hard to impose tougher
sanctions on Moscow, and it is to host elements of a new NATO
rapid reaction force, created in response to the Russian
intervention in Ukraine.
Weeks before Russia imposed restrictions on many food
imports from Western countries, it had blocked imports of Polish
apples and meat. Some Polish officials said Moscow was punishing
Warsaw for its hawkish stance over Ukraine.
Twice in the past decade, Moscow responded to natural gas
price disputes with Ukraine by cutting off supplies, affecting
its European clients further down its pipelines.
But a cut-off would also hurt Gazprom hard. With revenue
cut, Gazprom's finances would be affected. It cannot compensate
by borrowing from the West because sanctions bar Western
financial services from lending to the firm.
Turning off the taps is also technically difficult. The gas
has nowhere else to go but out to customers. It is impossible to
severely scale back extraction volumes at Gazprom's fields, nor
could such huge amounts of gas be safely flared off.
(Reporting by Chrstoph Zteitz in Frankfurt, Vladimir Soldatkin
in Moscow, Tsvetelia Tsolova in Sofia, Radu Marinas in
Bucharest, Maja Zuvela in Sarajevo, Jan Lopatka and Michael Kahn
in Prague, Krisztina Than in Budapest, and Andrei Makhovsky in
Minsk; Writing by Christian Lowe, editing by David Evans)