Ukraine to supply neighbours from own gas reserves

10:06, 12 January 2009
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The cut-off of...

Ukraine said on Saturday it would pump gas to Bulgaria and Moldova from its own reserves after Russian supplies were cut this week, crippling factories across southeast Europe and leaving households shivering, according Reuters.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko told his Bulgarian counterpart, Georgi Parvanov, that Kiev wanted to help the Balkan country, which is among the hardest hit by the crisis, Parvanov`s office said.

The cut-off of Russian gas supplies to Europe via Ukraine, with which Moscow is embroiled in a pricing dispute, has affected 18 countries.

In Bulgaria, dozens of schools have closed, factories have cut production and tens of thousands of households were left without central heating. Residents of Moldova also said heating in their apartments had been turned off.

Volodymyr Trikolych, deputy chief executive of Ukrainian state energy firm Naftogaz, said Ukraine wanted to supply Bulgaria with 2 million cubic metres a day and had already started pumping 1.5 mcm a day to Moldova.

"This isn`t re-export," Trikolych told a news briefing. "This is just goodwill. Naftogaz has set no conditions, no pricing parameters on Bulgaria and Moldova."

Gazprom, Russia`s state-controlled gas giant, welcomed the move, saying it would compensate for Russian gas it alleges Ukraine siphoned off illegally between January 1 and January 7 from supplies meant for other European countries -- a charge Kiev denies.

"The volumes supplied should be increased to the quantity of Russian gas for these countries that was taken in Ukraine," Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov said in a statement.

The president`s office in Sofia said Ukraine would deliver 1.5-2.5 million cubic metres to Bulgaria from its own reserves and that the countries` state gas companies would hold immediate talks to work out the details.

Trikolych said Romania had agreed to secure safe transport of the gas across its territory to Bulgaria.

"Today Romania will take 2 million cubic metres of gas from us and then Romania will pass on these 2 million cubic metres," he said.

Ukraine`s President Yushchenko will hold talks with his Romanian counterpart to make sure supplies are transported safely to Bulgaria, a presidential aide said.

The western Balkans and Bulgaria, the poorest European Union nation, rely almost entirely on Russian gas for their needs.

Bulgaria is pumping a maximum 4.2 million cubic metres of gas a day from its sole storage facility, compared with about 12 mcm of daily needs. The state gas transmission operator, Bulgartransgaz, said on Friday the flow of reserves would start declining in 7-10 days.

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