Russia says Ukraine’s Gas Debt at $2.44 Billion

Ukraine’s debt for Russian gas stands at $2.44 billion, Alexei Miller, the chief executive of Russia’s Gazprom, told Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday.

Russian news agencies also quoted Medvedev as saying that Russia was prepared to discuss options after a discount price offered to Ukraine expires on April 1.

“We will see how it goes – we are open to discuss different options for cooperation,” Medvedev said.

Last October, the European Commission negotiated a temporary deal with Kiev and Moscow to ensure Ukraine’s gas was delivered, but that lasts until the end of March.

Under that deal, the price at which Ukraine bought its gas from Russia included a discount of $100 for every 1,000 cubic metres. The gas price for the first quarter of this year is unclear due to fluctuations in the price of oil.

When asked about the comments from Russia, Ukrainian Energy Minister Volodymyr Demchyshyn said Kiev was also open to discussions.

“We’re trying to hold full-scale talks with the involvement of European partners,” he said in a briefing, adding that the recent steep fall in oil prices meant the market was in Ukraine’s favour.

Europe receives around a third of its gas from Russia, with about half of that pumped via Ukraine. Russia planned to build the South Stream gas pipeline to bypass Ukraine but scrapped the project last December, citing European Union objections.

Instead, Moscow proposed an undersea pipeline to Turkey, with an annual capacity of 63 billion cubic metres (bcm), which as Miller has said, should fully replace gas transit to Europe via Ukraine.

Source: Reuters