Ukraine refuses to transit gas for Europe: Gazprom (Lead)

January 14th, 2009 - 9:14 pm ICT by IANS  

Moscow, Jan 14 (RIA Novosti) Ukraine’s national energy company Naftogaz refused to accept Russian gas due to be transited to Europe for the second day running, Russia’s gas monopoly Gazprom said Wednesday. Gazprom said it submitted another application with Naftogaz Wednesday for the transit of 98.8 million cubic meters of gas that include 13.9 million cubic metre meant for Moldova, 62.7 million for the Balkan states, and 22.2 million for Slovakia.

According to the Russian firm, it has requested for transit of the gas via the Sudzha entry point on the Russian border, an export pipeline with direct access to the nations affected by the dispute, including Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey.

Russia, which has accused Ukraine of siphoning gas meant for Europe, resumed gas supply Tuesday after a week-long cut-off following the deployment of European Union (EU) monitors at gas metering stations in Ukraine.

However, Gazprom later said that Kiev was blocking the gas shipments.

Gazprom also said Naftogaz was demanding that the gas be sent via other transit stations, used mainly for gas intended for Ukraine’s domestic use, and that they receive 140 million cubic metre of gas in order to be able to resume supplies.

Ukraine has claimed that Russia has not provided enough “technical gas” necessary to maintain pipeline pressure and pump the required volumes to Europe. Kiev also said Moscow had demanded a complicated transit route be used that would force Ukraine to cut its domestic supplies.

“Naftogaz’s repeated refusals demonstrate that Ukraine is unable to replenish the gas reserves it has siphoned off and resume transits. Gazprom is prepared to restart supplies for European consumers at any moment,” the Russian energy giant said.

Oleh Dubyna, the Naftogaz chief, however, rejected Russia’s claims that Ukraine had illegally siphoned off its gas, saying the company had transited 1.2 billion cubic meters of gas to Moldova.

“The gas transits are technically not possible at the moment. We cannot reactivate the (transit) network for such insignificant amounts (of gas) and for an indefinite time,” Dubyna said, urging a provisional agreement with Russia that stipulated transit volumes and routes.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s energy minister, Yury Prodan, urged EU officials Wednesday to put pressure on Moscow over the delays in transits.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso was reported to have called the crisis “unacceptable and incredible” and warned the EU could advise energy firms to sue Russian and Ukrainian energy companies unless gas supplies were restored quickly.

The crisis has hit about 20 EU countries in the height of winter, forcing them to close schools, factories and leaving householders without heating.

The prime ministers of Slovakia, which has said it could reactivate its aging nuclear power plant to make up for the shortfalls in energy supplies, Bulgaria and Moldova are due to meet with their Russian counterpart in Moscow Wednesday to discuss the situation.

Russia cut off gas supplies to Ukraine Jan 1 after talks on debt and a gas price for 2009 broke down. On Jan 7, Moscow cut off shipments to Europe, accusing Ukraine of siphoning off gas in transit for European consumers.

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