Magazine article Europe-East

Energy : Weekend Talks Scheduled on Ukraine's Gazprom Debts

Magazine article Europe-East

Energy : Weekend Talks Scheduled on Ukraine's Gazprom Debts

Article excerpt

Russia's gas giant, Gazprom OAO(1), once again threatened to cut supplies to Ukraine from 11 February in a continuing dispute over payment, estimated by Gazprom, of an outstanding US$1.5 billion. This new threat raised the specter again of a possible repeat of the 2005-2006 dispute when Gazprom actually cut gas supplies for four days to Ukraine in early January 2006. Worst hit were Austria and Slovakia, with supplies of Russian gas down 33% and Hungary, down 40%. In the current dispute, Ukraine's Naftogaz denies any outstanding debts with Gazprom. Ukrainian Prime Minister Julia Tymoshenko sees the problem originating in the indirect relations between Gazprom and Ukraine, passing via the intermediary company RosUkrEnergo. Timoshenko is set to begin talks over the weekend as to resolving the debt problem.

Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs noted that Gazprom has given assurances that gas supplies to the European Union will not be interrupted. "The Commission calls on the two parties to find a solution to this commercial issue as soon as possible, and will continue to monitor closely the development of the situation," said Piebalgs in a statement. He noted that the Commission is considering the "possibility" of an urgent meeting of the gas coordination group "if the situation calls for action". A Commission spokesperson noted that Gazprom had done the "right thing" by informing the Commission of the possible disruption in supplies. The Commission has also charged its network of energy correspondents with reviewing gas supplies and any possible disruptions to the EU. …

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