KIEV The Ukrainian government will seek parliamentary approval on Thursday for a possible state of emergency in the energy sector which would empower it to dictate to gas companies, including private ones, to whom they should supply gas and for how much.
Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk's announcement signaled he wanted tight central control of domestic energy supplies as a Russian decision to cut off gas to Ukraine was taking effect.
Russia, Ukraine's main supplier of strategic supplies of gas as well the main provider of natural gas for Europe via Ukraine, cut off supplies to the ex-Soviet republic on June 16 in a dispute over unpaid bills.
Yatseniuk told ministers on Wednesday that a draft law "on a possible declaration of a state of emergency on the energy market" would go to parliament together with other draft laws on Thursday.
"I hope that the coalition (in parliament) ... will support the draft laws which are on the agenda," he said.
The draft law says that in the event of a state of emergency being declared "enterprises, institutions and organizations" in the fuel-energy sector would have to follow government instructions on supply irrespective of obligations under existing contracts.
It would further give the government powers to dictate to gas companies to whom they should sell their gas and at what price.
The legislation appeared to apply to private gas companies as well as the state gas and oil company Naftogaz, Ukraine's biggest gas importer.
(Reporting by Natalya Zinets; writing By Richard Balmforth, editing by Elizabeth Piper)