The EU executive said Friday that Russian gas deliveries have fallen in nine countries, with Gazprom invoking flexibility clauses as it also braves a cold snap.
The European Commission was highlighting the drop a day after Russian state gas giant Gazprom said it had increased volumes exported to European Union neighbours amid a sudden drop in temperatures.
With more than 220 lives lost as these temperatures reached new lows, the European Commission said Austria, Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Romania and Slovakia had each registered drops in gas supplies.
A spokeswoman for EU energy commissioner Guenther Oettinger, Marlene Holzer said that "our member states have been informed by the Russian authorities that there is exceptional cold weather, and that Russia needs more gas (for its own use) than normal."
She added, however, that Gazprom contractual small print with European buyers "allows for a certain flexibility."
Austria, for instance, had logged a 30 percent fall and Italy had seen deliveries fall by 24 percent, though she noted that stocks were not at an "emergency" level in any of the nine.
Italy's gas network Snam Rete Gas later said imports from Russia through the Tarvisio hub were down 28.9 percent on Friday, a sharper fall than on Thursday.
Bulgarian transit operator Bulgartransgaz said Friday that Russian supplies had appeared to stabilise.
Russian gas giant said Thursday that it had increased shipments through a Ukrainian pipeline network in response to higher demand.
The Ukrainian gas company Naftogaz denied it was tapping into gas destined for Europe, a frequent claim by Moscow in recent winters.
And Gazprom on Friday insisted it was respecting all its contracts to supply gas.
"We have a contractually agreed amount of gas per month and per day that Gazprom is obliged to supply," the head of pricing at Gazprom Export Sergei Komlev told the ITAR-TASS news agency.
"Now these obligations are being carried out, but the customers are asking for larger volumes than we are obliged to supply to them," he was quoted as saying.
"There is a difference between what people might want and the contractually agreed amounts," he said, stressing that Gazprom would have to pay a fine if it had failed to deliver on contracts.
He said the company had not been penalised.
Holzer said she was still waiting for some information direct from Moscow, but that Russia did not have to activate a crisis mechanism agreed with the EU until there had been both "a substantial decrease" and that "companies cannot get the gas from commercial sources or from other countries."