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Germany expresses concern over Russia-Belarus gas dispute, urges quick resolution

Germany expresses concern over Russia-Belarus gas dispute, urges quick resolution

Germany's economy minister expressed concern Thursday about the gas price dispute between Belarus and Russia's state-run gas monopoly, urging both sides to reach a deal as quickly as possible.
Russia's OAO Gazprom is threatening a Jan. 1 supply cutoff to Belarus if the neighboring country does not agree to higher prices. Belarus says that could jeopardize deliveries through its territory to European union nations.
Economy Minister Michael Glos said Germany "views with concern the dispute ... and the delivery shortfalls for Europe that might be connected with it."
"I appeal to the conflicting parties to reach a workable agreement as soon as possible ... and thus provide proof of their reliability as delivery and transit countries," Glos said in a statement.
Glos' ministry said, however, that there was no threat to gas supplies in Germany, in view of gas companies' storage capacities and the fact that relatively little of Germany's gas transits through Belarus.
E.On Ruhrgas AG, Germany's largest importer of natural gas, said its gas reservoirs are full, and that its Russian gas comes mostly via Ukraine rather than Belarus.
On Wednesday, German government spokesman Thomas Steg expressed understanding for Gazprom's aim of adjusting gas prices to "world market levels," but said that changes should be gradual.
Russia supplied gas to ex-Soviet states, including Belarus, at below-market prices for years after the 1991 Soviet collapse, but now wants to sell all its gas at world prices.