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European gas crisis looms as Russia tightens supply for cold snap

Russian contracts give it flexibility in how much heating gas it sends to Europe; with unprecedented cold weather gripping Europe and Russia, supplies for all are dwindling.

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LUBMIN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 08: A visitor and a worker look out at the central facility where the Nord Stream Baltic Sea gas pipeline reaches western Europe following the pipeline's official inauguration on November 8, 2011 in Lubmin, Germany. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images) (Sean Gallup/AFP/Getty Images)

Europe may be looking forward to an even colder winter, according to the Associated Press.

"Russian gas supplies to some of its member states suddenly have dwindled by up to 30 percent," the AP said. The contracts Russia has with Europe allow it to pull back supply if it needs it for its own use. Russia has seen temperatures drop to minus 35 degrees centigrade, which is roughly minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit.

More from GlobalPost: PHOTOS: Europe's deadly cold snap.

European Commission spokeswoman Marlene Holzner told reporters that several counrties have already received less gas than expected, according to the Kyiv Post:

"Poland, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Greece and Italy have all experienced shortfalls, she said. Austria had received 30 percent less gas than ordered, Italy 24 percent less and Poland 8 percent less, according to Thursday figures."

Bloomberg reported that the cold snap isn't being called an emergency — yet. There is pipeline infrastructure in Europe that will allow countries to transfer gas from storage facilities in one to another.

More from GlobalPost: Death toll in Eastern Europe rises as big freeze continues

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/120203/european-gas-crisis-looms-russia-tightens-supply