Ukraine urges Russia to stop gas supply 'manipulation'
AFP - Monday, January 5
KIEV (AFP) - - Ukrainian state energy company Naftogaz on Sunday accused Russia's Gazprom energy giant of manipulating gas supplies through Ukraine's transit network with "unpredictable consequences" for Europe.
Gazprom, dismissing the charge , retorted that it was providing more than enough gas to meet the needs of customers in the European Union, but that Ukraine was stealing some of that gas.
Naftogaz said it had received a warning from Gazprom that it would cut the volume of gas going to Europe through one of the branches in the Ukrainian pipeline system -- a route known as Soyuz -- by 52 million cubic metres a day.
"Under such circumstances, the route is in fact being taken out of the gas distribution scheme for European Union countries," the company said.
Naftogaz spokesman Valentin Zemlyansky told AFP the cut had not been made yet but that a written warning had been received Saturday.
The gas supplies through the Soyuz line would be cut by 52 million cubic metres to 20 million cubic metres a day, with "unpredictable consequences for the entire gas distribution system in Europe," Naftogaz said.
Naftogaz "urges Gazprom to stop technical manipulation of volumes and gas supply routes, synchronize the work of the gas distribution systems of Russia, Ukraine and Europe" and resume talks , the statement said.
On Saturday Naftogaz chief Oleg Dubina, said Russia needed to provide nearly 30 million cubic metres daily on top of the amounts it wanted to reach European customers. This extra "technical gas" requirement was to maintain pipeline pressure.
Gazprom however denied there was any requirement in agreements between the companies to provide such additional gas.
"The contract for transit contains no additional conditions besides payment for transit. The ensuring of transit using technical gas is Ukraine's responsibility," Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov told AFP.
Gazprom accused Naftogaz of "stealing" 25 million cubic metres -- the difference between the amount it supplied to the Ukrainian transit system and received on Ukraine's western border -- over the previous 24 hours.
"Gazprom provides gas at the entrance to the Ukrainian gas transport system in full accordance with the requests of European consumers and in accordance with existing contracts for transit across Ukraine," Kupriyanov said.
"All changes in the volume of gas at gas monitoring stations were agreed in timely fashion with the control centre of Naftogaz," he added.
Russian gas supplies to the European Union pass through a grid of Soviet-built pipelines in Ukraine, one of which is the Soyuz line.
Ukraine argues that a loose 2005 "protocol" on trans-shipment of gas fails to adequately provide for coordinated gas shipment.
Russia cut gas supplies to the domestic Ukrainian market in a gas payment dispute on New Year's Day, promising that onward supplies through the system would not be disrupted.
With no end to the conflict in sight, both sides have vowed to take their cases to an arbitration court in Stockholm.
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Gazprom gas supplies to Europe. Ukrainian state energy company Naftogaz has accused Russia's Gazprom energy giant of manipulating gas supplies through Ukraine's transit network with "unpredictable consequences" for Europe.
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