Europe may face further disruptions to its gas supply next winter if Ukraine cannot pay its gas debts to Russia, the head of Gazprom International said on Tuesday, according to Reuters.
Boris Ivanov, head of the international arm of Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom (GAZP.MM) said although it was unlikely there would be problems this summer, Ukraine`s severe financial crisis could lead to supply disruptions next winter when demand is greatest. "As soon as they pay things will come back to normal but there will be problems, in my opinion (this winter)," he told reporters in Qatar when asked if there was likely to be a repeat of the gas row between Moscow and Kiev that left parts of Europe without heating in January.
Ukraine transports the bulk of Russian gas supplies to Europe, or about a fifth of consumption in the European Union, and is seeking $4-5 billion in funds to build stockpiles of gas before winter, when demand rises sharply.
International lenders and the EU reported good progress in talks with Ukraine and Russia in Brussels on Monday over possible loans to help Kiev pay for Russian gas and avert a new crisis.
Ivanov said Europe and Russia should help Ukraine out to minimise the risk of another cut to its gas supplies.
"I hope we can minimise it, looking to the European Community to share the burden of doing that because after all they are the final consumer," he said on the sidelines of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum meeting in Doha.
"Since Ukraine is an important transit country it is not only our responsibility as a supplier but their responsibility as a consumer."