Russia, Ukraine to Hold Gas Crisis Talks as Deadline Looms

Posted by Michelle Howard
Monday, June 09, 2014

Ukraine and Russia will try to avert a gas war in last minute talks on Monday, brokered by the European Union in the hope of preventing supply disruptions and taking the heat out of the conflict in eastern Ukraine.


Russia has threatened to cut off gas supplies to Ukraine on Tuesday if it does not pay bills that rose sharply after popular protests toppled a pro-Moscow Ukrainian president in February. Moscow has since annexed Crimea from Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels are fighting security forces in the east.

The talks follow a tentative rapprochement last week when newly-installed Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Russia's Vladimir Putin met in France at commemorations of the World War Two D-Day landings.

The Commission, the EU executive, announced at the weekend that Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak, Ukrainian Energy Minister Yuri Prodan and the CEOs of Russia's Gazprom and Ukraine's Naftogaz would attend talks in Brussels, brokered by Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger.

Scheduled to start at 7 p.m. (1700 GMT) on a public holiday in much of Europe, the negotiations follow four previous rounds of trilateral talks as well as bilateral conversations between the two CEOs.

Oettinger said a week ago there had been progress and his "request and expectation" was that a deal could be agreed to ensure uninterrupted gas supplies until June next year, which would take Europe beyond the critical peak winter demand period.

The European Union gets roughly a third of its gas imports from Russia, and almost half of that is sent via Ukraine, meaning that if Gazprom cuts off gas to Ukraine, the EU could also suffer from disrupted supplies.

Desire for Compromise
Poroshenko's swearing in as president this weekend has raised hope the wider conflict may ease, although fighting is still intense in the separatist east of the country.

Analysts say both sides are anxious for a compromise, even if Monday's talks stop short of solving all the issues.

"It is clear that the Russians really want a resolution without a crisis," Jonathan Stern, chairman of the Natural Gas Research Programme at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, said.

If EU officials could persuade Kiev to use some of the billions of international aid money provided by the EU, the IMF and the United States to at least partly reduce its debt to Moscow, Stern predicted talks could continue and the immediate threat of a cut-off would pass.

Russia gave Ukraine an extra week to clear its debts after it paid a first instalment of $786 million a week ago.

Kiev says it cannot afford the amount now demanded by Russia and wants to pay the lower price that it negotiated in the past.

Details of the price negotiations are a closely guarded commercial secret. Oettinger has said only that the price being considered was less than the $485 per 1,000 cubic metres Russia has demanded and more than the $268.50 Kiev is seeking.

While the dispute has gone on, Gazprom has continued billing Kiev at the higher rate. It says Ukraine owes it $4.46 billion in unpaid bills and is running up more debt at a rate of more than $1 billion per month.

Attempts to settle the gas row are complicated by Russia's determination to press ahead with its giant South Stream pipeline, which would deliver gas straight to the European Union, bypassing Ukraine.

The European Commission says South Stream breaks EU law on competition and asked Bulgaria to halt work on its section of the project, prompting Russia on Monday to accuse the EU of imposing "economic sanctions by stealth".

(By Barbara Lewis and Martin Santa, Editing by Philippa Fletcher)

Maritime Reporter July 2014 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Finance

Bollore First Half Boosted by Transport, Advertising Unit

French industrial group Bollore said first-half operating income rose 11 percent to 314 million euro because of strength at its transport business and advertising agency Havas,

CMA CGM Continues Expansion, Confirms Profits

The Board of Directors of CMA CGM Group, the world’s third largest container shipping company, met under the chairmanship of Jacques R. Saadé, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer,

Odfjell Drilling in Tighter 2Q North Sea Market

Odfjell Drilling reports second quarter 2014 financial results showing a profit of US$29-million. Profit & loss Q2 2014 Operating revenue for Q2 2014 was USD 272 million (USD 289 million),

Energy

East and South China Sea Disputes Need Creative Diplomacy

China and the United States appear headed for a damaging confrontation over the extent of China's territorial claims in the South and East China Seas. Now that

Iraqi Kurdistan Oil Shipments Reach 8.8m Barrels

Iraqi Kurdistan has shipped 8.8 million barrels of oil from the Turkish port of Ceyhan since May, Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said, as the autonomous region

BMT WBM to Showcase TUFLOW at World Bank Seminar

BMT WBM ( (BMT), a subsidiary of BMT Group Ltd, a leading international engineering and risk management consultancy, is delighted to announce that it will be presenting

News

Dool to Serve as Chair of SLSMC Board

The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) announced that Tim Dool has been named as Chair of the Board of Directors, effective September 1. Dool was

Bollore First Half Boosted by Transport, Advertising Unit

French industrial group Bollore said first-half operating income rose 11 percent to 314 million euro because of strength at its transport business and advertising agency Havas,

East and South China Sea Disputes Need Creative Diplomacy

China and the United States appear headed for a damaging confrontation over the extent of China's territorial claims in the South and East China Seas. Now that

Government Update

East and South China Sea Disputes Need Creative Diplomacy

China and the United States appear headed for a damaging confrontation over the extent of China's territorial claims in the South and East China Seas. Now that

Iraqi Kurdistan Oil Shipments Reach 8.8m Barrels

Iraqi Kurdistan has shipped 8.8 million barrels of oil from the Turkish port of Ceyhan since May, Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said, as the autonomous region

British WWl Warship Refurbishment Project

Northern Ireland Office Minister, Dr Andrew Murrison MP, visited the historic HMS Caroline in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter as restoration grants are received, informs the UK Government.

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Security Maritime Standards Navigation Pod Propulsion Port Authority Salvage Ship Electronics Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction Sonar
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | terms and conditions | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.1541 sec (6 req/sec)