Slovakia says Russian gas deliveries still down by half

Russia's gas giant Gazprom headquarters stand in Moscow, on June 28, 2013 (AFP Photo/Vasily Maximov)

Bratislava (AFP) - Slovak gas importer SPP on Thursday said its Russian gas deliveries were still down by half of what they should be, even as Gazprom insisted levels had remained constant.

"Our company today reports again a roughly 50 percent drop in gas deliveries," SPP spokesman Petr Bednar said in a statement, confirming a second consecutive day of cuts.

Slovakia, which is heavily dependent on Russian energy, recently began pumping gas to Ukraine at the European Union's behest, after Russia cut off supplies to the conflict-ridden country.

Bratislava's involvement has not gone over well in Moscow, and already last month Slovakia saw its gas deliveries from Russia's state-owned Gazprom dip by up to 20 percent.

"There is enough gas in Europe, but unfortunately, it is being used as a political weapon," Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico told reporters Thursday.

He first reported a cut on Wednesday, which Gazprom later denied.

"The level of Russian gas supplies in the Slovak export direction has been unchanged over the last 10 days," Gazprom spokesman Sergey Kupriyanov said Thursday, quoted by Russia's RIA Novosti news agency.

"The volume of deliveries via the Uzhgorod pumping station, on Ukraine's border with Slovakia, is 48.1 million cubic metres of gas every day."

SPP added Thursday that it had inked a five-year deal with German energy giant E.ON that will see Slovakia receive up to two million cubic metres of gas per day.

"This represents yet another of the preventive measures employed by SPP in reaction to the increased risk of restricted gas supplies from the east," SPP said in a statement.

The Slovak government held an emergency meeting Thursday to formulate a game plan in case Russian supplies are completely cut off.

"Worst case scenario, we will stop the reverse flow (gas supplies) to Ukraine," Fico told reporters.

SPP added Thursday that it could transport gas -- Russian or other -- via routes in Austria and the Czech Republic if there are problems with deliveries via Ukraine.

That option could be launched "within the space of a few hours".

Fico said Wednesday he would coordinate strategy with the European Union should deliveries continue to dip.

"The situation will become very complicated if deliveries from Russia are entirely cut off," he said, pointing to "economic harm to both sides".