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EU to assist Ukraine in pay off part of debt to Gazprom, says commissioner

European Union will give assistance to Ukraine in paying off a part of that country's debt to the Russian producer and exporter of natural gas, OAO Gazprom, EU Commissioner for Energy Guenther Oettinger said Thursday upon the end of talks with the Slovak Minister of Economics and the Ukrainian minister of power engineering and coalmining appointed by the Verkhovna Rada.

He said support would be given by the EU to Kiev in paying on Gazprom's bills, which the EU believes to be justified, and in putting aside the bills that, according to him, are unfair.

Along with this, Oettinger said the utilization of a transit pipeline for reversed deliveries of gas to Ukraine from Slovakia without Gazprom's consent was not possible, as it would run counter to the obligation of the Slovak gas transportation company Eustream;

However, he believes in the feasibility a smaller solution, which envisions utilization of the Vojany-Uzhgorod pipeline does not need Gazprom's approval. This route can be used for pumping up to 10 bln cubic meters of gas a year, and this option might be implemented quickly enough before the end of this year.

Oettinger said it does not contradict Eustream's agreements with Gazprom and it can be translated into like over a period of several weeks.

He admitted, however, that discussions with Gazprom would be needed at the second stage.

However, Ukrainian minister of power engineering and coalmining, Yuri Prodan, said reversed deliveries of gas from Poland, Hungary and Slovakia (through the Vojany-Uzhgorod pipeline) would not be sufficient for keeping Ukraine warm next winter.

Ukraine and Slovakia hope to sign a memorandum on organizing reversed supplies of gas in Bratislava April 28, Prodan said. Slovak Economics Minister Tomas Malatinsky said the cans in had was the use of the Vojany-Uzhgorod pipeline and not the transit pipeline.

Prodan and Malatinsky also said technical experts on both sides would continue consultations in the next few days on separate points of the memorandum on organizing reversed pumping of gas so as to coordinate the document by Monday and to sign it in Bratislava.

Oettinger said he felt optimistic about Friday's talks at the technical level, as he thought they would lead up to the signing of the memorandum.

[Source: Itar Tass, Bratislava, 24Apr14]

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