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Russia, Ukraine, EU may discuss gas debt September 5 -- source

Russia, Ukraine and the EU may hold trilateral talks to discuss gas price and debt issues no sooner than on September 5, a source in the European Commission told ITAR-TASS on Monday.

The EU has not seen any gas supply shortages from Russia so far, an EU official told reporters. According to Russia's Gazprom, the main transit country, Ukraine, does not have enough gas reserves to ensure uninterrupted supplies to the EU during winter time.

During the future trilateral consultations, Russia and Ukraine will have to agree on temporary prices for gas supplies, Vice President of the European Commission Gunther Oettinger said earlier in August. The temporary solution will remain in force until arbitration courts, which are considering mutual claims of Gazprom and Ukraine's Naftogaz, make their decisions, Oettinger said, adding that this solution must include a full payment of bills by Ukraine.

The trilateral negotiations were halted in early June, when the parties came to a dead-end. Gazprom then agreed to recalculate the April-May Ukraine's debt on the basis of a $385 price, but Kiev wanted the price to be set at $326. According to Gazprom, the debt amounts to $5.3 billion, while Oettinger estimated it at $3.9 billion.

A bilateral meeting between Oettinger and Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak was scheduled for August 29. Novak and Oettinger also planned to discuss a solution to suspension of laying of the South Stream pipeline designed to bypass Ukraine in Russia's supplies to Europe.

Iranian authorities are ready to supply gas to Europe through South Stream's competitor Nabucco, local media reported Monday, citing Iranian Deputy Oil Minister Ali Majedi. Two delegations from European countries have visited Iran lately to discuss the possible routes of Nabucco, Majedi said, without disclosing which countries sent delegates.

[Source: Itar Tass, Brussels and Tehran, 11Aug14]

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