EU, Ukraine Step Up Talks To Head Off Gas Crisis

2009/07/18

The European Union said Friday it will step up talks with Ukraine, Russia and international financial institutions on financial aid to Ukraine, in a bid to head off renewed disruption of European gas supplies this winter.

Ukraine, a key transit route for Russian gas supplies to Europe, is seeking a loan to help pay its Russian gas bills and so avoid a repeat of its price dispute with Russia in January, which slowed gas supplies to Europe for weeks.

Ukraine has agreed to make several important reforms to its gas sector in return for a loan, European Commission spokesman Mark Gray said.

But the commission and financial institutions are seeking a more precise timescale for the reforms, he said.

Further talks are planned in Kiev next week.

Ukraine’s state gas company Naftogaz says it needs $4.2 billion to buy Russian gas, although international lenders are considering offering Ukraine loans amounting to less than $1.4 billion.

The figures weren’t discussed at Friday’s meeting, Gray said.

Europe imports a quarter of its gas from Russia, of which 80% flows through Ukraine.

energia.gr

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