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BRUSSELS, April 02. /ITAR-TASS/. The European Union and the United States hail Ukraine’s plans to diversify sources and routes for natural gas imports, according to a statement issued after the EU-US Energy Council session in Brussels on Wednesday.
“The Council affirmed its strong support for Ukraine’s efforts to diversify its supplies of natural gas, including through the rapid enhancement of reverse flow capacities, increased gas storage capacity, and decisive measures recently announced with the IMF (International Monetary Fund) to build a competitive energy economy,” the statement said.
The session in Brussels was attended by EU High Representative/Vice President Catherine Ashton, EU Commissioner for Energy Gunther Oettinger, US Secretary of State John Kerry, US Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman and some other US and European officials.
“The EU and the United States will work with Ukraine and international partners to extend best international practice as Ukraine takes these steps,” it said.
The statement also said that the EU and the United States praised “the determination of the Ukrainian government to pursue energy efficiency, market transparency, and the long overdue restructuring and reform of Naftogaz.”
Addressing a news conference on Tuesday, Andriy Kobolev, the board chairman of the Ukrainian national joint stock company Naftogaz Ukrainy, said the company was looking forward to buying natural gas from European suppliers.
“We are prepared to buy gas from any company that will offer the lowest price,” Kobolev said, adding that Kiev was in active talks with Bratislava negotiating a deal for Slovakia to become a transit country for EU supplies of natural gas to Ukraine.
Ukraine's reliance on Russian gas
Ukraine until recently heavily relied on natural gas supplies from Russia and also keeps serving as a transit country for Russia’s gas to a number of European countries.
However, Alexei Miller, the CEO of Russian energy giant Gazprom, announced on Tuesday that the price of Russian natural gas for Ukraine was upped to $385.5 per 1,000 cubic meters starting April 1.
According to Miller, Ukraine failed to meet its commitments and pay out 2013 gas debt, which already hit the mark of $1.711 billion.
In late 2013, Gazprom reduced gas price for Naftogaz Ukrainy by 33% to $268.5 per 1,000 cubic meters. Previously, Ukraine had bought Russian gas at $400. The discount for Ukraine was only effective in the first quarter of 2013.
Ukraine’s parliament-appointed Minister of Energy and Coal Industry Yuriy Prodan earlier warned the European Commission that if the European Union countries failed to arrange natural gas supplies to Ukraine, one could predict a complete halt of Russian natural gas supplies to the West via Ukraine.