Slovaks step up effort to secure gas swap with Kiev
Slovakia, one of the...
Slovakia has intensified efforts to secure new emergency gas deliveries to prevent a more radical curb in domestic supplies after flow of Russian gas was cut off last week, a government official said on Friday, according to Reuters.
Prime Minister Robert Fico has asked its neighbours to help Slovakia obtain Ukraine`s agreement with a proposed swap deal, under which Russia would supply around 20 million cubic metres (706.3 million cubic feet) of gas for Ukraine`s domestic needs and Kiev would send the same amount to Slovakia, a deputy economy minister said.
"Our prime minister had telephone conversations with several prime ministers of neighbouring countries, asking them for support in efforts towards Ukraine`s leadership to make the swap possible," Deputy Economy Minister Peter Ziga told journalists.
Slovakia, one of the countries most affected by the Russian gas supply interruption, has said it could maintain current gas consumption levels until the end of January from reserves and supplies from alternative sources.
Bratislava declared a state of emergency on Jan. 6, five days after Russia cut off gas supplies to Kiev over a pricing dispute. Slovakia covers almost all of its annual consumption of 6 billion cubic metres (211.9 billion cubic feet) with Russian gas, delivered via Ukraine.
Gas deliveries to large Slovak clients have been reduced, forcing about 1,000 companies to shut down or cut production, including western car makers and steel producers.
The government has warned it will have to curb supplies to heating plants and cut off corporate clients completely from February unless Russian supplies resume or it finds more alternative sources.
Ziga also repeated a call for solidarity among nations that receive Russian gas via the pipeline by-passing Ukraine.
He said Bratislava expected France and Germany to let Slovakia draw part of their supplies of Russian gas they get through the Yamal pipeline running via Belarus and Poland.
"I cannot imagine that all this diplomatic effort does not bring a positive result in a near future. I think more political and diplomatic effort cannot not be done," Ziga said.