BRUSSELS, March 21. /TASS/. Gas pumping to Ukraine’s underground gas storage facilities will be subject for further talks involving Russia, Ukraine and the European Union, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Friday.
Ukraine’s Energy Minister Vladimir Demchishin said Ukraine could pump into its underground gas storage facilities up to 19 billion cubic metres of gas in the summer period. Now, at the end of the heating season, Ukraine’s storage facilities are holding less than eight billion cubic metres of gas, of which five to seven billion cubic metres are the so-called buffer, or a mandatory remainder.
"From April 1, gas price for Ukraine will be 348 U.S. dollars per 1,000 cubic metres," Novak said, adding that before that date the Russian government would look at a possible discount of 100 U.S. dollars per 1,000 cubic metres starting from the second quarter of the year.
Demchishin said Ukraine hoped for a gas price under the summer package of 250 U.S. dollars per 1,000 cubic metres.
Due to considerable gas price fluctuations, further gas prices for Ukraine will be calculated on a quarterly basis.
Tripartite natural gas talks in the EU-Russia-Ukraine format have confirmed the safety of gas transit to Europe, European Commission Vice President for Energy Union Maros Sefcovic said after the meeting on Saturday.
"We’ve had a constructive meeting on the further action after the ‘winter package’ expires. I am pleased that the parties have agreed on further steps. This gives us the basis for working towards an interim agreement pending the Stockholm arbitration decision. In addition, I am convinced that the flow of transit gas to the EU will remain safe," he said.
High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini said for her part that the meeting was highly important. "I hope that an acceptable for all parties agreement will be reached in the near future, which will help reduce tension on energy issues between the two countries," she said.
According to Sefcovic and Mogherini, the European Commission expects the joint working group for the next meeting in April to prepare a preliminary draft agreement.
On March 20, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak and his Ukrainian counterpart Vladimir Demchishin took part in the talks chaired by Sefcovic. The talks were preceded earlier in the day by two bilateral meetings, one between the European Commission and Russia, and the second between the Commission and Ukraine.
Ukraine is currently paying $329 per 1,000 cubic metres as part of a deal, brokered by the European Commission last year to secure gas deliveries to Ukraine during peak winter season.
The agreement, dubbed "winter package," is due to expire on March 31. Russia’s Energy Minister Alexander Novak warned earlier in the day that Moscow reserved a right to revive the contractual "take-or-pay" provision past the expiry date.