(RIA Novosti) - Ukraine's new prime minister said the price for natural gas would not exceed $95 per 1,000 cubic meters during 2006, the cabinet press service said Wednesday.
The price of natural gas, an important factor for Ukraine's economy, has been a contentious issue between the ex-Soviet neighbors during Western-leaning President Viktor Yushchenko's time in office since 2004, reports Trend.
Following negotiations with his Russian counterpart Mikhail Fradkov, Viktor Yanukovych said: "The gas price will be no more than $95 this year, and next year's price will depend on the market."
Ukraine currently receives a mixture of Russian and cheaper Turkmen gas. The pricing formula is based on a rate of $230 for Russian gas and $60 for the Central Asian republic's gas under a January deal for the first half of 2006.
The Ukrainian premier said the price might even be lower than $95 this year, and added that the price formula for 2007 would be clarified by November-December.
The two countries endured a bitter price dispute in early 2006 over Russia's demand that Ukraine, which had long enjoyed subsidized rates, pay the market price for natural gas. A compromise was eventually reached, ending a three-day Russian boycott on deliveries.
Yanukovych disagreed with some expert forecasts saying that gas prices would hit $150-230 per 1,000 cu m next year.
"We expect no hikes in gas prices," he said. "At any rate, I did not receive the impression during the talks that my partners were applying any pressure."
The Ukrainian prime minister pledged that his government would seek a timely and transparent resolution of any problems between the countries, including in the gas sector.
Yanukovych, who was appointed prime minister on August 4 for a second time in his career, has returned from Russia, his first foreign visit since he assumed the post.