Naftogaz upsets $719 million debt talks with RosUkrEnergo
( RIA Novosti ) - Ukraine's Naftogaz failed to reach an agreement during debt talks on gas supplies with Swiss trading company RosUkrEnergo, which is its sole gas supplier, co-owned by Gazprom, the trader said Friday.
Ukraine, which has received over 1 billion cu m of Russian natural gas since the start of January and has debts for gas supplies of $719 million, disrupted the talks when Ukraine's state oil and gas company Naftogaz top manager, Igor Didenko, refused to discuss issues on the agenda and left the talks shortly after they started, RosUkrEnergo spokesman said.
"RosUkrEnergo AG company expresses its concern by the refusal to hold a civilized dialogue by Naftogaz," Andrei Knutov, press secretary of the intermediary firm that transports gas from Turkmenistan to East European countries, added.
Gazprom's spokesman confirmed that the talks had taken place and said the gas giant was not a key participant in them.
Knutov said earlier this week: "As of January 23, more than 1 billion cu m of Russian gas has been supplied by RosUkrEnergo AG to Ukrainian consumers," adding that debts owed by UkrGazEnergo, a joint venture between RosUkrEnergo and Ukraine's Naftogaz, which sells gas in Ukraine, amounted to $719 million.
RosUkrEnergo earlier said it would sell Russian gas to Ukraine in January-March for $314 per 1,000 cu m to cover a shortfall in Central Asian supplies.
In December, Russian energy giant Gazprom and Ukraine agreed that gas sold via RosUkrEnergo would cost $179.5 per 1,000 cu m in 2008 and Russia would pay Ukraine $1.7 per 1,000 cu m for the transit of gas per 100 km, up from the previous $1.6.
Previously, RosUkrEnergo supplied a mixture of Russian and cheaper Central Asian gas, but in 2007 it switched to Turkmen gas.
Ukraine's new government is seeking to review its existing gas agreements with Russia. Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has pledged to remove intermediary firms from the country's gas market, saying Gazprom could deal directly with Naftogaz.
Russia's ex-Soviet neighbor has also planned to raise its transit fee to over $9.
The bulk of Russia's gas supplies to the European Union, which account for one quarter of the bloc's demand, runs through Ukraine. A gas pricing dispute with Ukraine at the start of 2006 prompted Russia to briefly cut off supplies to the country. Europe-bound exports were also affected.