Final Word from Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Energy Envoy Václav Bartuška is trying to derail the multibillion-dollar gravy train that Russian and Ukrainian officials in the natural-gas business have been riding. He indicated on Czech Radio that although the two countries are embroiled in a gas dispute, they've been colluding to extort $4.2bn from the EU to fill Ukraine's storage tanks. Another big crisis is looming this winter, he said, because too many people are stealing too much gas money over there. He argued that the EU shouldn't give Ukraine a single dollar, because it's Gazprom's duty to deliver its gas to the EU's door. The question, though, is whether the EU will heed his words. What will it do if importers like RWE are slapped with big take-or-pay penalties by Gazprom because industrial customers are unable to honor their own take-or-pay gas contracts? A payoff to Kiev might avoid a chain reaction with ugly consequences for everyone.[Czech Republic European Union Transgas]

Glossary of difficult words

take or pay - a provision of a contract requiring one party of the contract to take delivery of goods (or a volume of goods) or pay a specified penalty;

to derail - to cause a train to leave its tracks;

gravy train - a situation in which someone can make a lot of money with very little effort;

embroiled - deeply involved in an argument, conflict or difficult situation;

to collude - to conspire; to come to a secret understanding for a harmful purpose;

to extort - to obtain by force, threats or other unfair means;

to loom - to seem about to happen;

to heed - to pay attention to; to take notice of.


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