Ukraine aims to deliver Turkmen gas to Europe
Ukraine aims to broker arrangements to get Turkmenistan`s gas flowing to Europe again, after a row between Ashgabat and Moscow, and to deliver the fuel through its pipelines, a senior Ukrainian official said, according to Reuters.
For years, Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom used to buy natural gas from the Central Asian state and resell it to Ukraine. Supplies stopped in April after a pipeline explosion and a pricing dispute between Russia and Turkmenistan.
Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko was in Ashgabat on Tuesday and Wednesday for talks involving energy cooperation.
Ukraine`s goal is to help get the gas flowing again in a deal with transit states Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Then, rather than buy Turkmenistan`s gas and sell on what it does not consume itself, Ukraine would just offer the use of pipelines across its territory.
"Ukraine can sign a contract to transit Turkmen gas. We are not going to resell (it)," Yushchenko`s energy security envoy Bogdan Sokolovsky told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday.
"Following this visit I am convinced that a key task for our government should be resolving the issue of reviving the Turkmenistan-Ukraine gas corridor with Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan."
It is unclear how Russia, involved in regular gas disputes with Ukraine over transit terms and arrears, would view such an arrangement.
"Ashgabat is ready to sell gas to consumers, including Ukraine, at the Turkmen border. The remaining issue is to secure its delivery to Ukraine and this is the job of the government led by (Ukraine`s prime minister) Yulia Tymoshenko," Sokolovsky said.
"She knows a lot about gas."
After the April dispute, Turkmenistan has tried to move out of Moscow`s shadow by offering gas, drawn from the world`s fourth-largest reserves, to eager buyers in Europe.
It has, in particular, offered to supply the European Union-backed Nabucco pipeline which would reduce EU reliance on imports of gas from or through Russia.
Ukraine also wants to join Nabucco, which follows a route skirting Russian territory, although its prospects are unclear.
With construction yet to begin on pipeline projects bypassing Russia, Turkmenistan needs to restart supplies to Gazprom as gas exports are a key source of foreign currency revenues.
Russian and Turkmen leaders failed on Sunday to set a timeframe for the return of Turkmen gas flows to Russia and analysts say Turkmenistan`s economy may come under strain if the supplies, which used to amount to about 50 billion cubic metres a year, do not resume soon.