The Voice of Russia: Gazprom urges Ukraine to fill gas storage for stable flows to Europe

Russia’s top natural gas producer Gazprom said on Thursday Ukraine has to increase the level of gas in storage to ensure its stable transit to Europe. Gazprom also said Ukraine’s unpaid gas bill for Russian gas stood at $2.2 billion, up from the previous estimate of $1.7 billion.

The statement was published after Gazprom’s chief executive officer, Alexei Miller, met the new head of Ukraine’s state energy firm Naftogaz, in Moscow.

A delegation of Ukraine’s Naftogaz company will arrive on Thursday in Moscow where it may meet with Gazprom head Alexei Miller. Gazprom has not commented. If the meeting is held, it will be its first contact with Ukrainian parliament-appointed energy and coal mining minister Yuri Prodan and new Naftogaz head Andrei Kobolev after the change of power in Ukraine.

Ukraine, as before, does not pay in full for Russian gas. Its accumulated debt amounts to 1.7 billion dlrs. Naftogaz of Ukraine must pay for the March supplies before April 7.

An informed source said he doubted any decision would be reached on Thursday. Quite possibly, the sides would only be acquainted with each other, he supposed.

Miller said last Tuesday that for Ukraine the gas price was set at 385.5 dollars for 1,000 cub/m for the second quarter. As is noted, it is not an increase, but a return to the earlier contract agreements, as Ukraine has not fulfilled the obligation under the additional agreement (December 2013), which stipulated a 100-dollar discount for timely payment.

On April 2, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law denouncing the Kharkov agreements that gave the 100-dollar discount for a thousand cub/m.

Russia in the third quarter may cancel the discount for Ukraine and increase the price by 100 dollar to 480 dollars a thousand cub/m, Deputy Head of the National Energy Security Fund Alexei Grivach told Itar-Tass earlier. He said that after the formalization of the denunciation of the Kharkov agreements, the price would rise by 100 dollars.

The CEO of Ukraine’s national oil and gas company Naftogaz Ukrainy, Andrei Kobolev, and Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller are set to meet in Moscow this week, Kobolev said at a press conference in Kiev on Tuesday. “I am leaving for a meeting with Alexei Borisovich [Miller] this week,” he said, Interfax reports. Kobolev did not disclose the meeting’s agenda, however.

Russia’s top natural gas producer, Gazprom, said on Tuesday it was increasing the gas price for Ukraine to $385.5 per 1,000 cubic metres in the second quarter from the previous rate of $268.5, Reuters reports.

Gazprom’s Chief Executive Officer, Alexei Miller, said that Ukraine’s debt for unpaid gas bills stood at $1.7 billion as of Tuesday.

Ukraine’s overall debt to Russia after the termination of the 1997 and 2010 Black Sea Fleet agreements stands at $10-11 billion, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said at a meeting of the Federation Council on Tuesday, Russian news agency TASS reports.

“As Russia quits the Black Sea Fleet agreements, Ukraine’s overall debt to Russia will reach $10-11 billion,” he said.

Ukraine’s Naftogaz is planning a more than 50% increase in consumer prices for household gas as of May 1, 2014, a company representative cited by Reuters said on Wednesday. The prices will keep rising steadily until 2018.

Yuriy Prodan, Ukraine’s parliament-appointed Minister of Energy and Coal Industry, has recently said that Ukraine was not officially notified that it no longer had a discount in the price it paid for Russian gas under the 2010 Kharkov agreements.

Prodan warned Ukraine could face risks linked to cuts in gas supplies to Ukraine and a considerable hike in prices for the gas which Ukraine receives from Russia.

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SOURCE: Voice of Russia, 2014

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