BRATISLAVA May 19 A pipeline to transport gas
to Ukraine via Slovakia should be ready for pumping at full
capacity starting in September, the head of Slovakia's pipeline
operator said, which would help provide some gas if Russia cuts
EU member Slovakia and Ukraine signed a deal at the end of
April that allows the European Union to send a limited amount of
gas to Ukraine, less than Kiev had hoped for to cushion the blow
should Russia turn off the gas.
"With 90 to 95 percent probability, we should be able to
ship 8 to 10 (billion cubic metres) per year already as of Sept.
1, depending that certain technical preconditions are met on
both the Slovak and Ukrainian side," said Tomas Marecek,
chairman of Eustream, the Slovak pipeline operator.
The company wants to evaluate bids for booking the
pipeline's capacity by the end of June, Marecek said, although
initial bids will be for less than full capacity and instead for
flows that Eustream will be certain it can transport.
To help meet its annual consumption of about 55 billion
cubic metres (bcm), Ukraine had been pushing to get up to 30 bcm
by reversing flows on pipelines that are currently being used to
import Russian gas into Slovakia. The Slovak government opposed
such a move because of worries over contracts.
Under the current deal, Slovakia will make technical
adjustments to an old, unused pipeline.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday the
agreements between Ukraine and Slovakia did not violate
agreements with Russia's state-controlled firm Gazprom
Gazprom has warned it will not supply Ukraine with gas from
June unless Kiev pays at least $2.237 billion out of a debt of
over $3.5 billion.
(Reporting by Jan Lopatka; Writing by Jason Hovet; editing by