Gazprom to look into legality of Ukraine's gas supplies from Europe
BY JAMES MARSON
MOSCOW -- Gazprom will look into the legality of Ukraine's gas purchases from Europe, a company spokesman said.
Ukraine is seeking to reduce its dependence on imports from Russia and in recent months has sought to buy gas from European companies, which it maintains pay a lower price for Russian gas.
Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov said that these Ukrainian purchases were "opaque" and should be examined, as the gas doesn't flow from Europe to Ukraine but is taken off while crossing the country.
"Physical reverse from Europe to Ukraine is simply impossible as there's no separate pipeline" Mr. Kupriyanov told reporters. "For this reason, it can only be opaque 'paper' operations, the legality of which needs to be examined. If our transit gas is used for the virtual 'reverse' that's a direct violation, which will have to be answered for."
Ukraine has for months pressed Gazprom for a discount on supplies, which it says are too expensive and are crippling its economy. But Gazprom has refused, instead hitting Naftogaz with a $7 billion fine for taking less gas than contracted for last year.
Naftogaz last year signed a contract to buy gas from RWE, but has so far only taken small volumes.
"We are sure that serious European companies won't take part in dubious gas schemes with Ukraine" Mr. Kupriyanov said.
Contract disputes between Russia and Ukraine, which transships the bulk of Russian deliveries to Europe, have twice in recent years led to serious supply disruptions to Europe.
Dow Jones Newswires