MOSCOW May 3 The European Union should share
responsibility for replenishing natural gas storage sites in
Ukraine to avoid threats to European gas supplies, Russia's
Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Saturday, Russian
"We think that the present situation has become critical and
urgent measures need to be taken to resolve it," Novak said, in
comments cited by Interfax.
Novak said Ukraine's storage sites will need to store at
least 18.5 billion cubic metres of gas in the coming winter. At
present the sites contain between 4 and 6 billion, he said.
"This means that ... in the summer period from May until
September ... there must be secured the injection of gas in
underground storage sites in the western part of Ukraine in
volumes of around 12 billion cubic metres," Novak added, in
comments also reported by other agencies including RIA novosti.
A third of the EU's gas import needs are met by Russia, with
almost half of that passing through Ukraine, which is in a
pricing dispute with Russian gas exporter Gazprom, its
third in the past decade.
Relations between Russia and the West have fallen to their
lowest ebb since the Cold War following Moscow's annexation of
Ukraine's Crimea region and the outbreak of clashes involving
pro-Russia militia in the east of the country.
Gazprom says Kiev owes it some $3.5 billion for gas already
Novak on Friday said if Russia does not receive pre-payment
for June deliveries by May 31, it is possible Gazprom will
reduce gas supplies to Ukraine.
(Reporting by Jason Bush; Editing by Megan Davies and David