Ukraine slashes Russian gas purchases for 2012

Ukraine, which is in a bitter row with Moscow over prices for gas, has slashed its purchases of the blue fuel to 27 billion cubic meters in 2012 from 40 bcm this year, Energy Minister Yury Boyko said on Wednesday.

“Yes, we have filed an official request for 27 billion cubic meters as early as last week,” Boyko told RIA Novosti.

Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said on Tuesday that Kiev would cut its gas purchases from Russia 67 percent in the next few years.

Ukraine has been seeking a revision of the 2009 gas deal with Russia since last spring, saying that the gas price formula is unfair. Russia has tied the price for gas to the international spot price for oil, which has been rising strongly recently.

Presidential administration head Sergei Lyovochkin said Kiev had set an October 15 deadline for trying to revise the contract, UNIA agency reported. The date is the start of the heating season in Ukraine.

The 2009 contract was signed by former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko who is now on trial for exceeding her authority in signing it.

Last week Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said the contract must be fulfilled but added that discounts were possible if Kiev joined the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan and agreed that acquisition of its Naftogaz energy company by Gazprom.

In January 2009, a pricing row between Moscow and Kiev led to a stoppage of Russian gas flows to Europe for about two weeks, tarnishing Moscow’s image as a reliable exporter and spurring a European quest for new suppliers.

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