KIEV, January 26 (RIA Novosti) – Russian gas giant Gazprom has presented Ukrainian energy company Naftogaz Ukraina with a $7 billion bill for gas it did not use in 2012, a Naftogaz spokeswoman told the UNIAN news agency on Saturday.
“There is such a bill,” said Naftogaz spokeswoman Elena Yurieva, adding Ukraine had paid for 24.9 billion cubic meters of gas used last year. Earlier, the Financial Times reported that Gazprom had billed Ukraine for unused gas worth around $7 billion.
Yurieva said Naftogaz Ukraina considered it had already met all its financial obligations to Gazprom for 2012. “We paid on time for all the natural gas delivered to us by Gazprom,” she told UNIAN.
Russia and Ukraine have been in dispute over gas deliveries since the two states signed a contract in 2009. That contract stipulated Ukraine must pay for at least 33.3 billion cubic meters of gas on a “take or pay” basis.
The deal ties the price of gas to oil prices, which have risen strongly since 2009, boosting Ukraine’s gas bill. Kiev claims the contract is unfair, and has insisted on reducing both the price and volume of its gas imports. Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko is currently serving a seven-year jail sentence for exceeding her authority in signing that deal.
Naftogaz Ukraina has repeatedly informed Gazprom it would reduce the amount of gas it bought from Russia in 2012, she said.
Gazprom could not be contacted for comment on Saturday. The company’s head Alexei Miller has previously said Ukraine must pay for any gas it does not use under the 2009 contract.
Ukraine turned off gas supplies from Russia to Europe in January 2009 in a dispute with Gazprom over payments. Since then, Russia has built the Nordstream pipeline system running through the Baltic to Germany to partly bypass Ukraine’s gas transit system.
Russia cut off gas deliveries to Ukraine on January 1, 2006 in an earlier dispute over gas, in which Russia accused Ukraine off syphoning off supplies intended for Europe.