Ukraine's Naftogaz pays new tranche of Gazprom debt

KIEV, Feb 20 (Reuters) - Ukraine’s state energy firm Naftogaz said on Wednesday it had paid off a second tranche of nearly $178 million of payment arrears for gas imports, which Russia’s Gazprom puts in total at $1.5 billion.

Gas export monopoly Gazprom GAZP.MM had threatened to cut some supplies to Ukraine over the debts but last week Moscow and Kiev clinched an agreement to settle payment of arrears and, over time, to do away with intermediaries.

A Naftogaz official told Reuters the company had paid the money to Ukrgazenergo -- one of the intermediaries that secures the gas from Gazprom via another go-between called RosUkrEnergo.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko and Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin agreed on terms to settle the debt and on creation of joint ventures between Gazprom and Naftogaz to replace the current intermediaries. (Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; editing by James Jukwey)