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Gas supplies to Europe remain as reliable as before - Russia’s Energy Ministry

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak and European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic agreed to maintain close contact over the issue
Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak Stoyan Vasev/TASS
Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak
© Stoyan Vasev/TASS

MOSCOW, March 3. /TASS/. A legal dispute of Russia’s gas giant Gazprom and Ukraine poses no risk to transit of gas from Russia to the European Union, which remains as reliable as earlier, a spokesperson for the Russian Energy Ministry told TASS on Saturday.

In comments on the phone talk between Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak and European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic, the official said, "Minister Novak assured [Sefcovic] that no threat exists to supplies of Russian gas Russia to Europe. Transit remains as reliable as in the past."

"Until the contracts between Gazprom and Nafrogaz are terminated in court, there is no risk to transit of gas via Ukraine," he added.

Besides, Sefcovic conveyed to Novak Ukraine's concern over the judgement of the Stockholm Arbitration Tribunal. The two men agreed to maintain close contact over the issue.

On February 28, the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce imposed a $4.63-billion penalty on Russian energy giant Gazprom over its gas transit dispute with Ukraine’s national oil and gas company Naftogaz.

Gazprom disagreed with the ruling and voiced its intention "to protect the rights which are available to it under the applicable law."

Gazprom's Deputy Chairman of the Board Alexander Medvedev told reporters earlier on Saturday that Gazprom began at Stockholm's arbitration tribunal the procedure of terminating contracts on gas supplies and transit with Naftogaz Ukrainy, Gazprom vs Naftogaz dispute.

On Friday, Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller told reporters that the Stockholm arbitration, guided by double standards, had adopted an asymmetric decision on the contracts with Naftogaz of Ukraine regarding supply and transit of gas. The decision seriously violates the balance of interests of the parties under these contracts, according to Miller.

Earlier, Medvedev said that Gazprom had returned the money Naftogaz paid for gas supplies in March and would not start them due to the lack of the approved supplement to the current contract.

Naftogaz CEO Andrey Kobolev took this as the refusal of Gazprom to comply with the court's decisions. He also said due to lack of gas supplies from Russia Ukraine faced a gas deficit and had to limit fuel consumption in the country since March 6.

Gas dispute

Gazprom and Naftogaz signed the current contract for the supply of gas to Ukraine in January 2009 and it is valid until December 31, 2019. Under the contract, the volume of supplies was to be 40 billion cubic meters of gas in 2009, and starting from 2010 - 52 billion cubic meters annually. However, since 2012, Naftogaz failed to fully intake the contracted volume. Since November 2015, Kiev has not bought Russian gas, replacing it with reverse gas from Europe.

In 2014, Gazprom and Naftogaz filed lawsuits against each other in the Stockholm Arbitration.

Ukraine sought a retroactive price change, recovery of overpayment for gas and cancellation of the "take or pay" principle.

Gazprom demanded that Naftogaz should pay arrears for gas that had been supplied earlier. Gazprom's demands for Naftogaz amounted to more than $37 bln.

The Stockholm Arbitration satisfied the requirements of the companies only partially.

In December 2017, the court ordered Naftogaz to pay Gazprom $2 bln for the deliveries, but reduced the annual contractual volume of purchases to 5 billion cubic meters. At the same time, the "take or pay" condition was preserved for 80% of this volume. This condition will be effective only in 2018.

The court also rejected most of Naftohaz' claims to Gazprom which concerned overpayment for gas. Only the price of gas received by the Ukrainian company in the second quarter of 2014 was lowered (from $485 to $352 per 1,000 cubic meters). Naftogaz wanted a retroactive price change starting from May 2011.

In the gas transit contract, Naftogaz and Gazprom agreed that the Russian holding will pump 110 billion cubic meters of gas through Ukraine annually. However, the contract notes that the annual volume is specified in additional agreements to the contract, depending on the obligations of Gazprom to European consumers.

Naftogaz demanded that Gazprom should pay $17 bln for the failure to supply the agreed volumes for transit. It also sought the revision of tariffs and conditions for the transit of Russian gas through Ukraine.

The Stockholm court ruled that Gazprom should pay about $ 4.7 bln to Naftogaz (taking into account the satisfied counter claims, Gazprom has to pay $ 2.56 bln). At the same time, Gazprom said that the arbitration court rejected Naftogaz' demands to increase the tariff for gas transit and change the contract in accordance with Ukrainian legislation.