Putin proposes EU consortium to aid gas flow

January 16th, 2009 - 12:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Novo-Ogaryovo (Russia), Jan 16 (RIA Novosti) Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has proposed to the European Union (EU) to set up a consortium to buy from its energy giant Gazprom the amount of gas that Ukraine says is necessary to resume transit to Europe. “We are proposing that our European partners share the risks and set up an international consortium that could buy from Gazprom the necessary amount of gas and immediately send it to Ukraine to secure gas transit to Europe,” Putin said Thursday.

According to Putin, Ukraine has asked Russia to provide 1.7 billion cubic meters of gas in the first quarter of 2009 to ensure the transit of Russian gas to Europe.

On Thursday, President Dmitry Medvedev offered to transfer the “technical gas” - the amount of gas Ukraine says necessary to resume the transit to Europe - to Ukraine on behalf of a consortium of European countries to restart gas transit to Europe.

Medvedev made the offer during a telephone conversation with Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko.

However, Gazprom’s official spokesman said Thursday the Ukrainian energy company Naftogaz was technically able to unblock Russian natural gas transit to Europe but lacked permission from Kiev to do so.

Meanwhile, Ukraine Thursday urged Russian energy giant Gazprom to sign a temporary agreement on the transit of gas to Europe.

Ukraine and Russia have been embroiled in a bitter dispute over gas prices and a new contract on natural gas supplies, which resulted in the suspension of deliveries to Ukraine Jan 1. A week later, Gazprom cut off supplies to Europe, saying Ukraine was stealing gas intended for EU consumers.

Following mediation by the EU, the two sides agreed to resume supplies. However, a test delivery was unsuccessful Tuesday and Russian gas via Ukraine has so far failed to reach the EU, leading Moscow to accuse Kiev of blocking the gas deliveries.

Gazprom said earlier Thursday that it had received a third refusal from Naftogaz to transit Russian gas on to Europe over the lack of a “technical” gas transfer agreement for 2009.

Russia insists its gas exit points have been open for three days now with gas pressure along the export pipeline sufficient to allow for the immediate resumption of gas transits to Europe.

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