Ukraine says agreement reached with Russian company on gas price

Ukrainer said Tuesday that an agreement has been reached with a Russian monopoly in a price dispute that has threatened to cut supplies to the country.

Energy Minister Ivan Plachkov said the agreement had been reached with OAO Gazprom, Russia's state-run company that provides about one-third of Ukraine's gas, his spokeswoman Lilya Klochko said.

But a Gazprom spokesman denied any such deal had been made.

Ukraine and Gazprom have been locked in the dispute over pricing that could see the company curtailing deliveries on Jan. 1 to Ukraine, which depends heavily on Russian-produced natural gas to power its industry and provide heat.

Reports said the prices that Gazprom charges most former Soviet republics have been well below world levels. But the company, which is preparing to make its shares available to foreign investors next year, has recently been raising its prices.

Gazprom wants to charge Ukraine a European price of 220-230 U.S. dollars per 1,000 cubic meters.

But Ukraine, which had been paying 50 U.S. dollars, has rejected such an increase, claiming that any increase should be implemented gradually in a five-year period.

Ukraine uses almost 80 billion cubic meters of gas annually, receiving 25 billion cubic meters from Russia, and 36 billion cubic meters from Turkmenistan, pumped via Russia. Ukraine itself produces some 18 billion cubic meters.

Natural gas is one of the key export commodities for Russia, whose economy heavily depends on exports of natural resources.

Source: Xinhua



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