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Gazprom doing all it can to continue gas shipments via northern corridor - deputy CEO

MOSCOW. Jan 7 (Interfax) - A halt in gas shipments to European consumers across Ukraine could lead to serious failures in the gas transportation system, Gazprom (RTS: GAZP) Deputy CEO Alexander Medvedev said.

"The situation did not improve last night and even seriously deteriorated after Ukraine, at 11:30 p.m. EST, started turning off the export pipelines that remained in operation and by the morning turned off all gas pipelines, leaving Gazprom physically - I emphasize, physically - unable to ship gas to European consumers across Ukraine," Medvedev said on Vesti television on Wednesday.

"Consumers who depended on gas coming from Ukraine, have lost this opportunity. Some countries have no underground storage facilities, which has led to a crisis in gas shipments," he said.

Gazprom is doing all it can to guarantee continued and normal gas supplies via the northern corridor, via the Yamal-Europe gas pipeline, via the Belarusian export system, using all our reserves," he said.

"We currently ship 150 million cubic meters of gas per day via the northern corridor using underground storage facilities, and we will probably be able to increase the amount by 10 million cubic meters. Finland gets gas via a separate pipeline. But no efforts we are making can remedy what Ukraine did when it shut its export gas pipelines," Medvedev said.

"It is particularly cynical that Ukraine blames Gazprom for not supplying gas to Ukraine," he said.

"Any school pupil remembers what happens when one end of a pipeline is closed. The opportunity to provide gas form the other side is lost. Therefore, the entire responsibility for the current situation rests solely with the Ukrainian side," Medvedev said

In conditions of freezing temperatures, if gas does not move via the system, it can come to a halt, he said, noting that "this could cause hydrate clogs to form in the system, which may require a serious amount of work to fix, including the work to cut in new pipes."

"It is our duty to warn what this irresponsible behavior on the Ukrainian part may lead to. To be honest, we cannot understand how the Ukrainian side could have taken this unprecedented step. No rational explanation exists to this. They remain away from the negotiating table, although we are prepared for the talks round the clock," Medvedev said.

"The issue has in fact gone beyond the limits of a commercial dispute. Such conduct is just impossible to explain," he said.