KIEV May 27 Ukraine's state gas company
Naftogaz said on Tuesday no real progress was made with Russia's
Gazprom over its gas debt or on price in talks in
Berlin aimed at settling a dispute that threatens to disrupt gas
flows to western Europe.
The statement seemed at odds with the EU's energy
commissioner, who said Ukraine and Russia had made progress on
price on Monday and his proposal for Ukraine to pay $2 billion
of its debts by Thursday could pave the way for talks on Friday.
Speaking after three-way talks with Russia's and Ukraine's
energy ministers in Berlin, Guenther Oettinger said the two
governments would study his proposal that Ukraine pay Russia $2
billion by Thursday and a further $500 million by June 7.
But Naftogaz said Russia had stuck to an "unconstructive"
position, demanding that Kiev should pay all its bills,
including ones that the gas company considers to be debatable.
"Naftogaz ... regrets the lack of real progress in
negotiations with Gazprom," it said in a statement.
Naftogaz said it was ready to pay bills if "a civilised
compromise" was found to ensure gas flows to Ukraine.
Ukrainian Energy Minister Yuri Prodan said on Monday there
was no final agreement after the Berlin talks and he would not
confirm that Ukraine had agreed to pay $2 billion on Thursday.
He said the two sides have until Wednesday night to decide.
Ukraine wants to change the conditions of a 2009 contract
that locked Kiev into buying a set volume of gas, whether it
needs it or not, at $485 per 1,000 cubic metres - the highest
price paid by any client in Europe.
Moscow dropped the price to $268.50 after then-President
Viktor Yanukovich turned his back on a trade and association
agreement with the European Union last year, but reinstated the
original price after he was ousted in February.
Ukraine insists on a price of $268.50 per 1,000 cubic meters
while Russia stands by its demand for $485. Oettinger is trying
to get the two sides to agree in the middle.
Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller told Rossiya-24 television late on
Monday the company was ready to provide a discount on the gas
price for Ukraine but only after Kiev paid at least part of its
Moscow says Ukraine's total gas debt stands at $3.5 billion
and will switch to pre-payment for June, promising to deliver as
much gas as it was paid for. Russian Energy Minister Alexander
Novak said last week Ukraine had yet to pay.
(Reporting by Katya Golubkova, editing by Elizabeth Piper)