Andriy Kobolyev, Chief Executive Officer of NJSC Naftogaz of Ukraine, interview for France-Presse Agency. Budapest, June 19, 2014
Kiev wants joint EU – Ukraine gas strategy 'by July'
Budapest (AFP) - Ukraine wants to agree a gas supply and pricing strategy with the European Union by next month, following a cut in Russian supplies, the head of state-owned gas firm Naftogaz said Wednesday.
"By July, Ukraine would like to see a common joint strategy. This is the key, we need a common strategy with the EU on how to resolve this crisis," Andriy Kobolev told AFP in Budapest on the sidelines of a closed-door energy security summit with European and US officials.
"Pricing is used by (Russian gas giant) Gazprom as a tool to exert political influence and blackmail not only on Ukraine but also other countries," Kobolev said.
"It is high time to unite the efforts of different countries to resolve the issue of gas pricing in a transparent manner," he added.
Ukraine receives half its gas from Russia but Moscow cut the flow of gas to its neighbour on Monday after last-ditch talks failed to resolve a price dispute, in what Ukraine's Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk called "another stage of Russia's aggression."
For Kobolev, it was crucial that Ukraine's gas supply crisis be resolved soon, "before winter comes and Gazprom's power grows."
He added that Naftogaz, already a client of German group RWE and French firm Gaz de France, had "proposals from another major energy company" to sell gas to Kiev, although he declined to elaborate.
Moscow is strongly opposed to these so-called "reverse flow" deliveries.
According to Kobolev, the supply via Poland was already running at full capacity and Hungary was close to that. Talks with Slovakia -- "the key route, through which Ukraine can get all it needs" -- were ongoing, he added.
Kobolev and Ukrainian Energy Minister Yuri Prodan were in Budapest on Wednesday to attend a two-day summit chaired by US energy envoy Carlos Pascual. The talks were mainly about how to diversify routes and ensure supplies to Ukraine and other countries that are heavily dependent on Russian gas, like Bulgaria.