EurActiv: Brussels, Kyiv diverge on gas talks results

Ukraine’s state gas company, Naftogaz, said Tuesday (27 May) that no real progress was made with Russia’s Gazprom over its gas debt, and on pricing, in talks in Berlin, aimed at settling a dispute that threatens to disrupt gas flows to western Europe.

The statement seemed at odds with the EU’s energy commissioner, who said Ukraine and Russia had made progress on price yesterday and his proposal for Ukraine to pay $2 billion of its debts by Thursday could pave the way for talks on Friday [read the Commission statement here].

Speaking after three-way talks with Russia’s and Ukraine’s energy ministers in Berlin, Günther Oettinger said the two governments would study his proposal that Ukraine pay Russia $2 billion by Thursday and a further $500 million by 7 June.

But Naftogaz said Russia had stuck to an “unconstructive” position, demanding that Kyiv should pay all its bills, including ones that the gas company considers to be debatable.

“Naftogaz […] regrets the lack of real progress in negotiations with Gazprom,” it said in a statement.

Naftogaz said it was ready to pay bills if “a civilised compromise” was found to ensure gas flows to Ukraine.

Ukrainian Energy Minister Yuri Prodan said yesterday there was no final agreement after the Berlin talks and he would not confirm that Ukraine had agreed to pay $2 billion on Thursday. He said the two sides have until Wednesday night to decide.

Ukraine wants to change the conditions of a 2009 contract that locked Kyiv into buying a set volume of gas, whether it needs it or not, at $485 per 1,000 cubic metres – the highest price paid by any client in Europe.

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SOURCE: EurActiv, 2014

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