* Ukraine previously promised to guarantee gas transit to EU
* European Commission is analysing the details
(Adds European Commission reaction)
By Pavel Polityuk
KIEV, Aug 11 Ukraine said European companies
would have to agree on a major revision of gas contracts with
Russia if Kiev imposes sanctions on Moscow and Gazprom
, a measure that may lead to disruption in gas transit
Ukraine Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said last week that
parliament would debate sanctions against Russia on Tuesday,
which could include bans on Russian gas and sanctions against
Ukraine gas grid Naftogaz said on Monday that the sanctions
could limit or even exclude some companies from piping gas
through the country, which would allow other firms to take over
transit operations. The statement did not mention Gazprom or
"The main idea is - transit could continue with no problems
if this gas is bought at our eastern border by let's say
European companies," a Naftogaz spokeswoman told Reuters.
European companies buy gas from Russia on the western border
between the European Union and Ukraine. Russia supplies about 30
percent of EU gas needs, and the transit route for roughly half
of that amount is through Ukraine.
Gazprom, the only company that pumps Russian gas to Europe
through Ukraine, did not reply to a Reuters request for comment.
The European Commission said it was looking into the details
of the proposal.
"Any possible concerns the EU may have on this draft
legislation will be made known by the appropriate channels to
the Ukraine government," spokeswoman Marlene Holzner said in an
If agreed, the proposed sanctions could lead to a major
revision of gas contracts between Gazprom and its European
partners. Gazprom had already had disputes with a number of its
Western partners over its pricing policies, which have cost it
billions of roubles.
Previous pricing and contract disputes between Moscow and
Kiev have led to cuts in Russian gas flows to the European
PROMISE OF SMOOTH TRANSIT
Russia halted gas supplies to Ukraine in June because of a
row over pricing, but Russian gas transit through Ukraine to
Europe has been unaffected so far.
In July, Ukraine imported gas from Poland and Hungary, but
the volumes amounted to about a tenth of its imports a year ago.
Naftogaz said it would continue uninterrupted pumping of
Russian gas exports to Europe through its territory even if
Ukraine imposes its own sanctions on Russia.
"Naftogaz affirms its readiness to continue smooth transit
of natural gas to European consumers," Chief Executive Andriy
Kobolev said in a statement.
Prices of long-term gas contracts in Germany and central
Europe eased on Monday after Kobolev's comments.
Apart from Ukraine, Russian gas to Europe is shipped via
Belarus and via the Baltic Sea pipeline Nord Stream. Norway's
Statoil already acknowledged it could boost supplies in
Europe but cannot fully substitute for Russian gas.
(Writing and additional reporting by Katya Golubkova in Moscow
and Barbara Lewis in Brussels; editing by Dmitri Zhdannikov and