Final Word from Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Gazprom flipped the switch this morning and resumed natural-gas flows to the EU. Czech consumers and companies weren't directly affected by the week-long crisis, unlike some of their Central and Eastern European brethren. However, the crisis does raise the question of how much the opaque system of energy-trading companies is costing Czech consumers. According to media reports, Swiss-based RosUkrEnergo has a lucrative contract to ship gas across Ukraine to the EU. RWE Transgas says, though, that it has only one supplier, Gazprom Export, and that it delivers gas to RWE on the Ukrainian-Slovak border. Who else is involved in getting the gas to that point, and how much is being skimmed off and sent to Zug, isn't something anyone wants to talk about. By pushing for a quick end to the immediate crisis, the EU has missed a chance to unravel some of the gas-trading mystery.[Czech Republic European Union Ukraine Russia Switzerland]

Glossary of difficult words

brethren - people belonging to a particular group;

opaque - not transparent, hard to understand;

RosUkrEnergo - Russian-Ukrainian trading company;

to skim - to take, steal or embezzle money; esp. in small amounts over a period of time;

Zug - the Swiss city where RosUkrEnergo is registered;

to unravel - to investigate and solve or explain something complicated or puzzling.

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