Ukraine may be able to stop importing natural gas in 2030 and replace it with domestic energy resources, Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said here on Thursday, according to Xinhua.

"Europe`s biggest oil company Shell is going to start drilling at the experimental field of unconventional gas in Ukraine. This company estimates, that Ukraine may be able to stop gas imports by 2030," Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kostyantyn Gryshchenko said in his blog.

Shell will start exploring shale gas deposits in the Yuzovska gas field in eastern Ukraine this year, the minister said.

The discovery of shale gas in Ukraine may transform the country from an importer of gas to an exporter, as the former-Soviet state is believed to be one of Europe`s largest holders of the shale gas with estimated reserves up to 1.5 trillion cubic meters.

Ukrainian Energy Ministry has repeatedly said that Ukraine aims to reduce imports of Russian natural gas by 70 percent to 12 billion cubic meters by 2017.

At the same time, Kiev plans to boost its own gas production to 27 billion from 20 billion cubic meters within five years.

Ukraine depends heavily on Russian-produced natural gas. The country consumes an average of 60 billion cubic meters of natural gas every year, of which over 66 percent is from Russia.