Ukraine starts receiving Russian gas for transit to Europe (Lead)

January 20th, 2009 - 8:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Moscow, Jan 20 (RIA Novosti) Ukraine’s gas system started receiving Russian gas for transit to Europe Tuesday, a spokesman of Russian energy giant Gazprom said.Following Sunday’s talks between the two countries’ premiers, Gazprom and Ukrainian energy company Naftogaz Monday signed a contract on Russian gas supplies to Ukraine for 2009-19.

“They (Ukrainians) are ready to open the taps for gas transits to Europe. On our side, the pipe has been under pressure since Jan 13, when Gazprom was ready to start gas supplies to European consumers,” Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said at a meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

Around two hours after Russian gas began to enter Ukrainian pipelines, supplies to Slovakia resumed, a source at the Velke Kapusany gas entry point said.

“Slovakia is reporting an increase in the pipeline pressure. Gas has started to arrive,” the source said.

Gazprom is also opening up the other gas transit routes, and is set to pump a daily volume of some 400 million cubic meters of gas, a Gazprom source said, adding that the Russian gas monopoly was also expecting a signal to start pumping gas for Ukrainian consumers.

“Gas supplies to Ukraine will total 40 billion cubic meters in 2009,” the Russian energy giant said in a statement, adding that “the volume of gas transits through Ukraine in 2009 will total up to 120 billion cubic meters.”

Miller said Ukraine would pay $360 for 1,000 cubic meters of Russian natural gas in the first quarter of 2009.

“In the first quarter of this year, gas will be supplied (to Ukraine) at the market price of $450,” he said. “With a 20% discount the price will be $360.”

Ukraine paid $179.5 per 1,000 cubic meters of gas in 2008. Gazprom had insisted on a market price of $450 for 2009.

The Gazprom chief warned that his company would make Ukraine switch to 100 percent prepayments if it failed to pay for Russian gas supplies on time.

“The contract stipulates a special mechanism: if payments are disrupted and we are confronted with non-payments, we will automatically switch to a 100 percent prepayment system. If this happens, Ukraine will pay one month in advance,” Miller said.

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