ASHGABAT, January 23 (RIA Novosti) – Ukrainian Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara reiterated on Wednesday that his country is eager to resume direct natural gas supplies from Turkmenistan, which had been the status quo until 2003.
In recent years Ukraine has consistently sought to alter the terms of the controversial gas deal it signed with Russia in 2009, pushing for both price and volume cuts. Since these attempts have so far failed to deliver real results, the ex-Soviet republic is looking for alternative gas supply options to cut its mounting energy bill.
Kozhara said that resuming direct supplies of Turkmen gas to Ukraine is now a more realistic prospect, since Kiev ratified an agreement on the free trade zone with the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) last July.
“It is obvious that there is definite competition, but first of all there must be laws in force on free access, the free market and fairness, meaning equal access for producers, transit-countries and consumers to all possible sources,” the minister said.
The Moscow-initiated agreement on the CIS free trade zone was ratified by Russia and Ukraine, but not by Turkmenistan, which holds the world’s fourth-largest gas reserves.
The issue of resuming direct gas supplies from Turkmenistan was raised by Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych during his visit to Ashgabat in 2011 and again during Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov’s return visit to Kiev last year. Neither visit produced any inked agreements on this issue.