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Britain starts Russian gas imports under 2012 deal just as tensions mount

Published on Mar 21, 2014 10:41 PM

LONDON (REUTERS) - Britain has begun this year to import gas from Russia under a formal contract for the first time, just as European calls to loosen Moscow's grip on energy supply mount because of the crisis over Ukraine.

The country's biggest utility Centrica signed a deal in 2012 with Russian state-controlled Gazprom to import 2.4 billion cubic metres of gas over a period of three years, and the supplies began flowing in January.

Russia is Europe's biggest supplier of gas, providing around a third of the continent's needs, and some of this has previously reached Britain from continental European storage sites.

The exports largely go to central and southeastern Europe rather than to Britain, which still has significant domestic reserves and gets most of its imports from Norwegian pipelines or liquefied natural gas (LNG) shipments from further afield.

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