Ukraine will continue boosting gas purchase volumes from Europe

Ukrainian state energy company Naftogaz has reduced Russian gas imports by 30 percent this year and will cut them further in 2014 by doubling imports from Europe, Ukraine's Energy Minister Eduard Stavytsky told Reuters in an interview.

"I think that (imports from Europe) will be 2.0-2.5 billion cubic meters this year, and in 2014 no less than 5 billion cubic meters, judging from the plans and bids that I have already seen. Technically, we can facilitate (imports of) 6.5 billion cubic meters (a year)," Stavytsky said.

He said the price of gas supplied from Europe by one of Ukraine's partners, German firm RWE, was expected to average USD 385 per thousand cubic meters (tcm) in the September 2012-September 2013 period. Naftogaz paid more than USD 400 per tcm for Russian gas in the same period.

The Minister also said about plans to import 18 billion cu m of gas from Russia in 2013.

But Stavytsky said Ukraine still hoped to work out a compromise solution with Russia for the coming years, using its new resources as leverage. "We cannot stop imports from Russia altogether today, even if we wanted to," Stavytsky said.

To remind, Kyiv has asked Moscow for more than two years to cut the price of energy supplies, set by the contract signed by the previous government in 2009, which is considered to be unjustly high. But with years of talks producing no tangible results, in late 2012 it started to replace Russian gas with cheaper fuel purchased on the European spot market.

Kyiv hopes diversification will ease Moscow's grip on its economy and persuade Russia to reconsider its stance.

In the longer run, Ukraine plans to further reduce its dependence on Russia by shipping in liquefied natural gas (LNG) through the Black Sea and developing seashelf and shale gas deposits.

Adapted from Ukrinform