Moscow is ready to allow Kiev to use Russian pipelines to transit Turkmen gas to Ukraine, Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said on Saturday.
“Why can’t we receive cheap gas from Turkmenistan? Because we did not have access to the pipe in the Russian territory,” Azarov said in an interview with Ukraine’s Inter TV channel.
“We agreed for the first time… that within six months after an agreement [on the creation of a free trade zone within the Commonwealth of Independent States] comes into force, we will sign an agreement on the conditions of the pipeline transit [of Turkmen gas to Ukraine],” he said.
In August, following a row between Moscow and Kiev over the price Ukraine pays for Russian gas, Ukrainian state energy monopoly Naftogaz threatened to cut its gas imports from Russia if Moscow does not agree to lower the price. Naftogaz is currently negotiating the issue with Russia’s energy giant Gazprom.
Earlier this month, Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko was sentenced to seven years in jail on charges of abusing her power in the signing of a 2009 gas deal with Russia. She has already appealed the verdict.
Turkmenistan, holding the world’s fourth-largest gas reserves, is looking to diversify exports from its traditional destination of Russia. Last year, the country announced plans to supply up to 40 billion cubic meters of natural gas to Europe. Turkmenistan may become one of the key gas suppliers to the EU-supported Nabucco project.
On Tuesday, the majority of the CIS countries signed an agreement to set up a free trade regime after two decades of debate. Turkmenisan, along with Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan, have not signed the agreement. Russian Prime Minsiter Vladimir Putin said the countires would consider joining the free trade zone by the end of the year.
The treaty is yet to be ratified by member states. Azarov said on Thursday the agreement may come into force in January 2012.