KIEV, Jan. 14 - Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko said Wednesday that she has been seeking to hold a meeting with her Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in the near future to end the natural gas standoff.
She said her office - so far unsuccessfully - has been trying to get hold of their counterparts in the Putin office to organize a phone conversation, and the meeting, between the two.
“We are waiting for the reply, and I hope that the phone conversation will take place,” Tymoshenko said at a press conference. “After the phone conversation we will define how to hold the meeting to figure out all needed parameters for providing Ukraine with natural gas.”
Tymoshenko seeks the meeting with Putin after Russia’s second attempt over the past two days to restart gas supplies to the European Union has failed on Wednesday.
Tymoshenko said that Russia’s gas giant Gazprom had selected a route that makes it impossible to restart the supplies without shutting completely gas supplies to Ukraine’s eastern regions.
“Ukraine informed Eurogas and the leadership of the European Union that all actions that had been taken by the Russian Federation had not allowed transportation of Russian gas to the European Union,” Tymoshenko said.
Gazprom for the second day insisted on moving 76.6 million cubic meters of its gas from Sudzha gas measuring station in the Kursk region of Russia to the Orlovka station in the Odessa region of Ukraine. This gas was aimed at Bulgaria, Turkey and Moldova, according to Gazprom.
Gazprom also sought to move 22.2 million cubic meters of gas from Sudzha to the Uzhgorod station in western Ukraine, the gas aimed at Slovakia.
But Naftogaz Ukrayiny, the national oil and gas company that operates the Ukrainian gas pipelines, said the amount of gas was so small that it was not enough to reverse the gas pipeline system.
The system, capable of moving more than 300 million cubic meters of gas daily, has been working in the reversed, emergency mode since January 7, when Gazprom had completely stopped gas supplies to the European Union.
The reverse mode was needed to maintain the system operational and to supply gas to Ukraine’s eastern regions, such as Donetsk, Dnipropetrovsk and Luhansk, that had been otherwise relying on Russian gas supplies.
Oleh Dubyna, the head of Naftogaz, said to reverse the pipeline system with such a small amount of gas and for unknown, perhaps short period of time, is technically impossible without shutting down gas supplies to the eastern regions.
“We have come to conclusion that in this case Odessa will have no gas, half of Kharkiv will be cut off, there will be problems in the Donetsk, Luhansk and parts of Dnipropetrovsk regions,” Dubyna said at a press conference. “How can I do this? No.”
Naftogaz asked Gazprom to restart gas supplies via two other Russian gas measuring stations, such as Valuyki and Pisarevka, but Gazprom had rejected the idea.
“Gazprom says: implement our request. That’s it,” Dubyna said.
Dubyna also said that Naftogaz and Gazprom must agree on a schedule of gas supplies for the next 30 days to avoid a situation in which Gazprom may again shut gas supplies, sending the Ukrainian system into the emergency mode.
“We cannot re-launch the system [of gas supplies to the EU] with small amounts [of Russian gas] and for the term that we do not know,” Dubyna said. “We must see the situation at least for the next one month so that we could plan and reverse our gas transportation system.”
Gazprom, citing a dispute with Ukraine over gas prices and transit fees to be charged in 2009, suspended the supplies on January 7, sending shockwaves throughout Europe as gas supply disruptions had been reported in Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, Italy, France, Hungary, Romania, Poland, Bulgaria, Turkey, Croatia, Greece, Macedonia and Moldova.
Ukraine’s gas pipeline account for 80% of Russian Europe-bound gas shipments, underscoring the importance of the supply route. Russia accounts for a quarter of Europe’s gas needs.
Ukraine shipped a total of 112.1 billion cu m of natural gas to Europe in 2007, down from 113.8 billion cu m shipped in 2006 and down from 121.5 billion cu m shipped in 2005, according to the Ukrainian government. (sb/ez)