This article was written by -- the leading provider of energy news in the world. Also check out this recent article:

Gazprom (NASDAQOTH:OGZPY) stated on March 7 that Ukraine has failed to pay for its natural gas deliveries in February. The failure to pay, the Russian gas giant notes, may result in a disruption in service. Gazprom went to lengths to reassure the world that it would continue to ship gas to Europe regardless of the Ukrainian conflict. "There are no issues with transit shipments. Transit is paid and continues," a Gazprom spokesman said, referring to deliveries to Europe.

Ukraine, on the other hand, is a different story. "Today, March 7, was the deadline for payments for gas supplies to Ukraine in February. Gazprom has not received payments for the debt," Gazprom Chairman Alexei Miller said." We cannot supply gas for free. Either Ukraine redeems debt and pays for the current deliveries, or there is a risk to return to the situation of early 2009."

The March 7 deadline for payments of $440 million came and went, and Moscow will have to decide what next steps to take.  Ukraine now owes a total of $1.89 billion to Gazprom. Even if Gazprom decides to stop delivery of natural gas to Ukraine, it is far from clear that it can be done cleanly without disrupting service to the rest of Europe. Much of Russian gas sold to Europe must traverse Ukraine through a web of pipelines. Ukraine could theoretically tamper with, or divert, natural gas intended for Europe.

Moreover, cutting off gas to Ukraine, even if service to Europe is not disrupted, would escalate a conflict that has already reached crisis proportions. Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a few days ago that Gazprom would end price discounts to Ukraine after they expire on April 1. Ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych agreed to accept a 33% price discount last December.

Trouble for OPEC could be an opportunity for investors
Imagine a company that rents a very specific and valuable piece of machinery for $41,000... per hour (that's almost as much as the average American makes in a year!). And Warren Buffett is so confident in this company's can't-live-without-it business model, he just loaded up on 8.8 million shares. An exclusive, brand-new Motley Fool report reveals the company we're calling OPEC's Worst Nightmare. Just click HERE to uncover the name of this industry-leading stock... and join Buffett in his quest for a veritable LANDSLIDE of profits!


Written by James Burgess at 

The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Compare Brokers