KIEV, Aug. 24 - Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych on Wednesday assured the European Union that Ukraine will guarantee steady shipments of Russian gas to Europe via its pipelines during the winter.
Yanukovych was responding to concerns that Ukraine might use some of the Russian gas is receives over the winter to alleviate its own gas shortages, reducing shipments of gas to European customers.
â€śEurope must know this and rest assured that we will not be taking European gas from the pipeline,â€ť Yanukovych told BBC radio on Wednesday. â€śWe will have enough gas that we will store in underground gas tanks.â€ť
Ukraine currently faces a deficit of about 8 billion cubic meters of gas, or more than 10% of the countryâ€™s annual demand in 2006, as a result of Turkmenistanâ€™s suspending deliveries on Jan. 1.
Ukraine ships about 110 billion cu m of Russian gas to consumers in Europe annually via its pipelines, 80% of Russiaâ€™s overall gas exports to Europe.
Meanwhile, Energy and Fuel Minister Yuriy Boyko apparently told Gazprom earlier in the week that Ukraineâ€™s looming gas deficit must be tackled by both Russia and Ukraine in order to prevent gas supply disruptions to Europe.
â€śWe were told that the problem of Ukraineâ€™s gas deficit is a joint problem [of Ukraine and Russia],â€ť Kommersant daily reported, citing an official at Gazprom. â€śAnd that we have to solve this problem jointly, or otherwise the transit of Russian gas to Europe cannot be guaranteed in full volume.â€ť
European Union Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs said Thursday he was concerned about insufficient supplies of gas to be stored in Ukraineâ€™s underground tanks.
â€śWill there be enough gas pumped into storage in Ukraine? That is my biggest point of concern for security of supply this winter,â€ť Piebalgs said, quoted by Reuters.
The Gazprom official said Ukraine has been suggesting two ways of solving the problem, including jointly pushing pressure on Turkmenistan so that the Central Asian country sells gas at an affordable price.
Boyko has been apparently seeking to buy Turkmen gas at $75 per 1,000 cu m at the border between Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, as opposed to $100/1,000 cu m that had been last month asked by Ashgabat.
The other solution was for RosUkrEnergo to sell the remaining 8 billion cu m of gas to Ukraine at the current price of $95/1,000 cu m at the border between Ukraine and Russia, Kommersant reported citing the official. (tl/ez)