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Date of Russia-Ukraine-EU gas talks still undetermined

Moscow offered a $100 discount off the price of $485 for 178 months on condition that Kiev pays a part of its debt for pervious gas supplies

MOSCOW, September 10. /ITAR-TASS/. The date of a new round of trilateral gas talks between Russia, Ukraine and the European Union has not yet been determined, the Russian Energy Ministry said on Wednesday.

The previous round took place in Brussels on September 6.

Naftogaz of Ukraine has suggested setting the price of gas for Ukraine in the range of $325 /in summer/ to $385 /in winter/ per 1,000 cubic metres pending the examination of mutual lawsuits by the Stockholm court of arbitration.

Moscow offered a $100 discount off the price of $485 for 178 months on condition that Kiev pays a part of its debt for pervious gas supplies.

In 2013, the average price of Russian gas was $380 per 1,000 cubic metres for Western Europe and $272 per 1,000 cubic metres for CIS and Baltic states.

In 2014, Gazprom set the price of gas for foreign countries at $372 per 1,000 cubic metres /4% off the 2013 price/.

The company regularly revises gas prices on a case-by-case basis. In May 2014, Lithuania signed an agreement allowing it to buy Russian gas at a price of $370 per 1,000 cubic metres from July 1 (20% off the previous price).

In 2014, Germany has been buying Russian gas at a price of $387 per 1,000 cubic metres and Greece at $398-399.5.

Speaking of the gas price acceptable to Ukraine, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said one could judge about it from media reports. “As far as I understand, it’s 320-380 U.S. dollars, depending on the time of year. This is what has been mentioned in the press. The contract does not allow us to set two prices. It’s not possible even physically. But, most important, we have to go back to the payment of the debt in the first place because we keep talking about the price of gas but not about the debt as if we have already forgiven it. In fact, this is the main issue,” Novak said.

He said Russia’s position had not changed. “We think the proposals we put forth in the spring were comfortable and quite flexible,” the minister said, adding that Russia had offered a 100 U.S. dollar discount to Kiev.

Novak said the discount could be offered if Ukraine paid at least a part of its debt to Russia.

However, Ukrainian Energy and Coal Industry Minister Yuri Prodan snapped back by saying, “We can again hear the price of $385 resulting from a so-called $100 discount on the price of $485. Russia apparently believes that $485 is a fair and market price. We believe that this is a discriminatory price,” Prodan said.

He repeated Kiev’s earlier proposal that the price of gas should be calculated on the basis of prices at the European gas hubs, reduced by the cost of gas transportation from the Russian border to the European Union.

Prodan said earlier that Kiev’s position on the payment of its debt to Russia had not changed: “we will pay it immediately as soon as we come to agreement on the price”.

“If no agreement is reached, the Stockholm Arbitration [Institute] will have the final say,” he added.

But Novak said gas talks with Ukraine might resume only after Naftogaz of Ukraine had paid the debt for previous gas supplies and suggested returning to the 2010 agreement under the current contract effective until 2019, which will set the price at 385 U.S. dollars per 1,000 cubic metres.

Under the contract between Naftogaz of Ukraine and Gazprom, the price of gas supplied to Ukraine is determined by the formula that is pegged to the price of oil. “This formula is used everywhere in the world for pipeline gas supplies,” Novak said.

However, Prodan said an acceptable gas price for Ukraine could be within the range of 268.5 to 385 U.S. dollars.

Following the failure of the gas talks, Gazprom switched to prepayment mode in trade with Ukraine and filed a lawsuit in Stockholm, seeking to collect a debt of 4.5 billion U.S. dollars.

Naftogaz of Ukraine, in turn, presented its own lawsuit on the same day, seeking to revise the current gas contract with Gazprom and demanding that the Russian company return 6 billion U.S. dollars overpaid by Ukraine for gas since 2010.

Tripartite consultations, involving Novak, Prodan, and EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger, started on May 2 and ended on June 16 with no result achieved. After that Gazprom and Naftogaz of Ukraine filed lawsuits against each other at the Stockholm arbitration court.

Ukraine is hoping to get the Stockholm arbitration court ruling on its gas dispute with Russia by the end of the current year, Justice Minister Pavel Petrenko said.

The lawsuits filed by Naftogaz of Ukraine and Russia’s Gazprom have been combined into one case. Kiev is demanding that “a fair and market” price be set for Russian gas and that Gazprom be obligated to return $6 billion “overpaid” by Kiev for the gas supplied by Russia since 2010.

Gazprom sued Naftogaz of Ukraine for its failure to pay a debt of 4.5 billion U.S. dollars for the gas that was delivered but not paid for.