John Deede | Shale Plays Media Google+
Gazprom had cut the flow of natural gas to Ukraine on Monday after negotiations failed to resolve the dispute over outstanding debt to the company. The bargaining over natural gas payments and discounts has been a trademark for Soviet-style corruption in the region for years, with Ukraine depending heavily on Russia for the vast majority of their energy supply. On Tuesday an explosion hit the “Brotherhood” natural gas pipeline in central Ukraine. According to RT:
An explosion has struck a pipeline in the central Ukrainian Poltava region. Witnesses say flames from the blast are up to 200 meter high, RIA Novosti reports.
The “Brotherhood” natural gas pipeline (Urengoy-Pomary-Uzhgorod) is about one kilometer away from the nearest settlement. No injuries have been reported from the blast. Fire fighting crews have been deployed to the scene.
“The explosion occurred at about 14:45 local time in a field. Due to the flame and the high temperatures, it is impossible to get closer to the epicenter,” the local police press-service said in a statement. This video allegedly shows the fire at the “Brotherhood” pipeline. It cannot, however, be immediately verified.
Pipeline faucets are being tuned off as fire fighters still can’t put out the flame.
The cause of the explosion remains unclear and could be determined after the fire is extinguished.
According to preliminary reports, the explosion was caused by pipeline depressurization.
The pipeline runs about 2,766 miles and supplies numerous European and Baltic countries, but Gazprom has declared that the explosion has not affected gas supplies to other countries. The explosion may have been an intentional response to Russia cutting their supplies hours before.
Meanwhile, fighting in the east continues between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russia separatists, who wounded about 30 Ukrainian servicemen with mortar fire overnight near the city of Luhansk. With months of unrest in Ukraine and lack of control over pipeline safety, Russia has to be concerned about its ability to supply Europe with gas through Ukraine while simultaneously denying Ukraine supplies.