KIEV, Feb. 1 вЂ“ A disagreement over natural gas prices delayed creation of a joint venture between Naftogaz Ukrayiny and RosUkrEnergo, breaking a deadline set in a key gas supply deal between Ukraine and Russia.
Naftogaz sought assurance from RosUkrEnergo, a key gas supplier to Ukraine, that the gas price would stay unchanged during the next five years, Studio 1+1 television reported Wednesday citing a source.
Naftogaz late Wednesday confirmed the joint venture had been postponed, but the company had refused to provide the reason for the delay.
Naftogaz and RosUkrEnergo were supposed to create no later than Feb. 1 a 50-50 joint venture that would supply gas to industrial consumers in Ukraine.
The disagreement casts doubts on the deal signed Jan. 4 to end a gas dispute between Ukraine and Russia as Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov has expected the price to stay unchanged during the next five years.
The deal stipulates that RosUkrEnergo, which sells Turkmen, Uzbek and Kazakh gas to Ukraine, would guarantee the price at $95/1,000 cu m during the first six months of the year. It also stipulates that the price cannot be changed without consent of all parties, including Naftogaz, RosUkrEnergo and Gazprom.
RosUkrEnergo is thought to be managed by Gazprom, but its owners apparently include undisclosed individuals.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has apparently assured his Ukrainian counterpart Viktor Yushchenko during their meeting in Astana on Jan. 11 that the gas price would stay unchanged for the next five years.
Ukraine promised to keep tariffs for Russian natural gas transit unchanged for the next five years at $1.6 for shipping 1,000 cu m for a distance of 100 km.
Arseniy Yatseniuk, the economy minister, said Wednesday RosUkrEnergo has so far failed to provide sufficient guarantees that the prices will stay unchanged.
вЂњI am absolutely not interested in who we sign the deal with,вЂќ Yatseniuk said. вЂњBut I am interested in Ukraine getting gas at $95/1,000 cu m during the next five years as has been declared, and enough to cover the entire demand.вЂќ
Ukraine seeks to keep the prices unchanged during the next five years as any higher gas price would make chemical industry unprofitable and squeezing profits dramatically at the steel making sector. (tl/ez)