Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Gazprom Prepays Ukraine for Natural Gas Transit Through March 2010

By Anna Shiryaevskaya and Lyubov Pronina

Sept. 7 (Bloomberg) -- OAO Gazprom must reject any requests from Ukraine for advance payment of natural-gas transit fees after already prepaying more than $2.2 billion, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said.

Russia’s gas-export monopoly must uphold its transit agreement with Ukrainian state energy company NAK Naftogaz Ukrainy, Medvedev told Gazprom Chief Executive Officer Alexei Miller at a meeting today, after the CEO confirmed that the accord doesn’t call for advance payment.

“We should act in accordance with the obligations the sides assumed,” Medvedev said, according to a transcript of the meeting published on the president’s Web site. “These are not the easiest times.”

Russia, which supplies a quarter of the European Union’s gas, ships 80 percent of that through neighboring Ukraine. The countries signed a gas-supply and transit contract in January, ending a spat over debt and fees that had disrupted deliveries to Europe for the second time in three years.

Gazprom has paid Ukraine in advance to ensure gas transit this year and up until the second quarter of 2010, Miller told Medvedev.

“I don’t think this is a conflict,” Pavel Sorokin, an analyst at UniCredit SpA in Moscow, said today by telephone. “They are negotiating. Ukraine is interested in keeping its gas-transit role.”

Under the January accord, the countries agreed to keep Russia’s transit fees unchanged this year and subsequently raise them to European levels, along with the price Ukraine pays for Russian gas.

Gazprom expects the average 2010 transit fee to be $2.56 to $2.70 for 1,000 cubic meters of gas transported over 100 kilometers (62 miles), company spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov said by telephone. That’s an increase of as much as 58 percent from this year.

To contact the reporters on this story: Anna Shiryaevskaya in Moscow at ashiryaevska@bloomberg.netLyubov Pronina in Ulan Bator at lpronina@bloomberg.net

Last Updated: September 7, 2009 11:09 EDT

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