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Next round of Ukraine-Slovakia gas talks due April 28 -- Eustream

Eustream gas transporter spokesperson has reported the delegations of Ukraine and Slovakia will meet in Bratislava on April 28.

The delegations are to sign a memorandum on mutual understanding for gas supplies, which Slovakia signed earlier, Vahram Chuguryan told ITAR-TASS on Tuesday.

Slovakia's proposal will allow reverse gas supplies to Ukraine in October in the amount of 3.2 billion cubic meters per year, he said.

In March 2015, reverse supplies can increase up to 8-10 billion cubic a year, Chuguryan said, adding that this would allow Ukraine to diversify gas supplies.

Earlier, parliament-appointed Ukrainian Minister of Energy and Coal Industry Yuriy Prodan said Ukraine had held talks with the European Union on this issue on April 15.

"There are some positive signs because the European Commission has started studying our suggestions regarding reverse gas supplies and their increase. This will not require serious technical steps," he said.

The European Commission will study Kiev's proposals within a week. In the meantime Slovakia "should prepare necessary legal documents", Prodan said.

He could not say when a memorandum on reverse gas supplies would be signed. "We expect the European Commission to consider our proposals. Then we'll make the decision," Prodan said.

The memorandum drafted by Slovakia implies that supplies will begin as soon as the necessary technical conditions are created. Slovakia is prepared to supply up to eight million cubic meters of gas per day and about three billion cubic meters per year, Prodan said.

Reverse supplies may begin from November 1, 2014, he added.

"They [Slovakia] later suggested increasing gas supplies up to 20 million cubic meters per day," Prodan said.

On April 2, parliament-appointed Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said Ukraine was looking forward to a political decision by the EU to start reverse gas supplies from Slovakia.

"Slovakia and its gas operators have all technical resources in place to start reserve gas flows. All they need is a final 'go-ahead'," Yatsenyuk told Dragon Capital Investor Conference.

"We hope that Slovakia is capable of pumping through 20 billion cubic meters of gas. The price of EU gas is lower than Russia's: 350 dollars per 1,000 cubic meters. Now it's entirely a matter of politics," he said.

Ukrainian national joint stock company Naftogaz is negotiating with German to become a "direct buyer" of fuel without a scheme of mediators, Naftogaz Board Chairman Andrei Kobolev said.

Several gas traders had contracts with Germany. So, Naftogaz still hoped to start fuel purchases from that country on the border with Ukraine.

Ukraine "was working actively with Slovakia" to import gas from the EU states through that country.

In the meantime, there are some obstacles in this issue, Kobolev said.

"We have a relatively clear-cut action plan, but we cannot announce it yet," he said.

Slovakia itself takes a very cautious position on this issue. It names such options as "one of the scenarios" and fears that Ukraine will not pay.

"Slovakia is ready to help. However, any aid is economically limited," the Slovakian government said in March.

The price of Russian natural gas for Ukraine makes up $385.5 per 1,000 cubic meters from April 1.

Under the effective gas supply contract, the gas price for Ukraine will be $385.5 per 1,000 cubic meters in the second quarter. Gazprom's "December discount" for Ukraine could no longer be used.

Ukraine has failed to meet its commitments to pay its 2013 gas debt and effect 100% payment for current supplies, which has further increased its gas bill, Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said on Tuesday, April 1.

"As of now, the debt has reached $1.711 billion," he said.

[Source: Itar Tass, Bratilava, 22Apr14]

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