(Repeats to fix transmission glitch)
* Ukraine says reverse gas flows from EU down to 7 mcm daily
* Energy minister blames Gazprom "threat"
* Naftogaz says lower supplies "unpleasant but not critical"
(Updates with Naftogaz, other detail)
By Pavel Polityuk
KIEV, July 23 Ukraine said it was receiving less
gas via reverse flows from the European Union, which Energy
Minister Yuri Prodan blamed on reluctance by firms within the
EU to antagonise Russian gas producer Gazprom, a heavy
critic of the flows.
Ukraine uses around 50 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas per
year and has increased efforts to secure more gas from the EU
after Gazprom raised prices for its supplies in a spat which has
added to the crisis in the ex-Soviet state.
Russia covered half of Ukraine's gas needs last year. On
June 16 it halted supplies to Ukraine over price disagreements
and Kiev's outstanding debt for earlier deliveries.
Prodan said on Wednesday Ukraine first noticed the decline
in deliveries from Europe some two weeks ago and that reverse
supplies stood at 7 million cubic metres (mcm) daily on
Wednesday, versus a possible 18 million.
That compares to supplies of 16 mcm daily via reversed flows
from the EU in June, including 12 mcm from Hungary, according to
Ukraine's state energy company Naftogaz.
"Reverse gas supplies are reduced at present. This is linked
to certain actions by Gazprom," Prodan told reporters. "You
heard the threats Gazprom made to European energy companies that
this reverse is illegal."
Gazprom declined to comment on Wednesday. In April the
company voiced doubts over the legality of reversed gas flows
from the West to substitute for Russian supplies.
Gazprom head Alexei Miller said his company could curb
supplies to Europe via Ukraine over reversed flows and denounced
such movements as "semi-fraudulent".
Naftogaz on Wednesday said flows from Poland were proceeding
as usual but were lower from Hungary, which was filling its own
storage. It did not attach blame to Gazprom.
"We hope the lowering of reverse flows is temporary,"
Naftogaz head Andriy Kobolev told a briefing. "This is
unpleasant but not critical."
On April 28, Bratislava and Ukraine signed a deal allowing
the EU to send a limited amount of gas to Ukraine. Bratislava
said combined reverse flows from Slovakia, Hungary and Poland
could reach up to around 16-17 bcm annually.
Naftogaz also said in June it hoped to be receiving 27 mcm
of gas daily from Slovakia when the reverse flows start in
(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk in Kiev and Vladimir Soldatkin in
Moscow, additional reporting by Natalia Zinets,; writing by
Gabriela Baczynska; editing by Keiron Henderson)