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Oettinger says Ukraine may steal Russian transit gas in winter

August 28, 2014, 14:20 UTC+3 BERLIN
“It is essential we prevent further escalation of the Ukrainian conflict,” EU Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger says
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© ITAR-TASS

BERLIN, August 28. /ITAR-TASS/. EU Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger insists on solving the gas dispute between Russia and Ukraine as soon as possible, as during the winter season Ukraine can steal gas that will be pumped to Europe, Oettinger told German TV Channel ARD in an interview Thursday.

“During a long and cold winter Ukraine will lack gas, and if the country does not have enough own gas - the danger of gas being stolen arises, the danger of the gas being lost on its way from the East to the West arises,” he said.

“It is essential we prevent further escalation of the Ukrainian conflict.”

In a separate interview he said the EU is getting for a possible worsening of the gas raw, and working on scenarios for all cases. He said he does not expect Russia or Ukraine to switch the gas off, but the possibility of this happening is not zero.

He also added that Russia can rightfully expect Kiev to pay its bills, but on the other hand Ukraine and other countries have a right for fair gas prices formed by the market and not by political quarters.

On Tuesday, following a Customs union-Ukraine-EU summit, Oettinger said the EU has put forward an interim agreement which Russia and Ukraine could sign without waiting for a Stockholm arbitration court decision. The E.U. expects Russia-Ukraine-EU gas talks to restart in September, and lay the basis for more active political efforts to solve the conflict, he said.

In June, Russian gas giant Gazprom switched Ukraine off gas over unpaid debt and filed a $4.5 billion suit to the Stockholm arbitration court. Later, Kiev reciprocated by sending a suit to the court against Gazprom for making Ukraine overpay $6 billion for gas since 2010, setting too high prices in its contract.

As of August 22, Ukraine’s underground gas storage facilities had 15.492 billion cubic meters of gas stored in it and were 48.49% loaded. In May, Gazprom said Ukraine must have 18.5 billion cubic meters of gas in the storages to ensure a flawless transit to the EU in the next winter season.

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