* Gazprom says not in talks with companies on take-or-pay
* Government says unaware if the issue was raised
(Recasts after Gazprom and government comments)
MOSCOW, Sept 28 (Reuters) - Russian energy giant Gazprom GAZP.MM said on Monday it was unlikely for it to review contracts on gas deliveries with European companies after a Russian newspaper report.
European consumers of Russian gas, including Germany, Italy and Turkey, plan this year to take up to $2.8 billion less gas than stipulated in take-or-pay contracts with Gazprom GAZP.MM, Kommersant business daily reported on its front page on Monday. Consumers plan talks with Gazprom to avoid payment after a sharp drop in gas demand this year and are citing Russia's lenience with Ukraine as a precedent, the paper said.
But Ilya Kochevrin, executive director of Gazprom’s export unit, told Reuters the contracts should be honoured.
“There are agreements signed by both sides, and they should be fulfilled,” he said, adding no company had approached Gazprom so far on the issue.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin this month agreed that Kiev could import much less gas in 2010 than previously agreed, saving Ukraine’s fragile economy from potentially huge fines before an election early next year. [ID:nL1716728]
Kommersant cited an unnamed source close to Gazprom’s board of directors as saying third-quarter gas deliveries had not significantly picked up from the first half of the year, when deliveries to western Europe dropped 29 percent year-on-year.
The source said the first company due to settle on a take-or-pay basis was Italy's Eni ENI.MI, followed by Turkish state firm BOTAS, German firms E.ON EONGn.DE, BASF BASF.DE and RWE RWEG.DE and France's GDF Suez GSZ.PA and Total TOTF.PA. Kommersant also quoted a manager at an unnamed western consumer as confirming import volumes would be down and that talks were under way with Gazprom over payment.
The matter was raised with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin during his meeting last week with foreign energy executives in the Arctic city of Salekhard, the newspaper quoted another unidentified gas market source as saying. [ID:nLO729481]
But Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesman, said he was unaware of such meeting. “I don’t know nothing of it,” he told Reuters. (Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin and Katya Golubkova; writing by Robin Paxton and Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by James Jukwey)
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