'RUSSIA TODAY': "Russia Says Avoids Y2K Energy Problems" - 'All systems of communications, remote controls and energy supply in every different time zone are functioning normally'

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This is from 'RUSSIA TODAY'...

Russia Says Avoids Y2K Energy Problems

MOSCOW, Jan 2, 2000 -- (Reuters) Russia's energy sector, Europe's main gas supplier and one of its biggest sources of oil, successfully avoided all glitches from the millennium bug by Saturday morning.

"On the first day of 2000, all computers running the integrated gas supply system of Gazprom are working normally," gas monopoly Gazprom , the world's biggest gas company, said in a statement.

It added that the company had received reports from all its subsidiaries working "from the far north to Dagestan, from Krasnoyarsk to France", and there were no problems to report.

"All systems of communications, remote controls and energy supply in every different time zone are functioning normally," the statement said.

A spokesman for the Central Dispatch Unit of Russia's Fuel and Energy Ministry told Reuters there had been no disruption to oil supplies.

"Everything is working normally. There have been no problems," he said, adding that exports were continuing to flow.

Russia is the major oil supplier to central and eastern Europe, with over 800,000 barrels per day flowing through the Druzhba pipeline which crosses Ukraine and Belarus.

The trunk gas pipelines to Europe transit the same countries.

Russia has long been considered one of the world's most at-risk countries from the millennium bug, which can cause older computers using only two digits to identify the year to crash, if they fail to recognize 00 as representing 2000.

There were particular concerns over gas supplies given the impossibility of switching suppliers quickly if the were any disruption, raising fears of a cold, miserable start to the year in some of Europe's coldest regions. But while several international agencies had warned that Russia was not properly prepared for the bug, both Gazprom and the Fuel Ministry had confidently predicted they had the problem under control.

The International Energy Agency, the West's energy watchdog, said in Paris early on Saturday that it was unaware of any problems to oil and gas flows in Russia.

Moscow woke to bright winter sunshine on Saturday with no apparent difficulties with lighting or heat, and the same situation was reported from the regions.

"All computers are working normally," said a spokesman for the Emergency Situations Ministry in Novosibirsk, Siberia's largest city, adding that the airport and railway station were working to schedule and there was no energy supply disruption.

-- John Whitley (jwhitley@inforamp.net), January 02, 2000

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