Russia and Ukraine begin round of consultations on gas transit in Vienna
Russia's Gazprom and Ukraine's Naftogaz are holding talks in Vienna on the Russian-Ukrainian gas cooperation on Friday. The meeting is attended by the head of Gazprom Alexey Miller and the leadership of Naftogaz Ukraine, TASS reports.
As expected, the main topic will be the extension of the contract for gas transit from Russia to Europe through the Ukrainian territory after 2019, since the current ten-year contract expires at the end of the year. Earlier, the executive director of Naftogaz Ukraine Yuri Vitrenko stated that December 13 is the deadline for concluding a contract for the long-term reservation of transit capacities of the Ukrainian gas transmission system, adding that "there should be some intermediate decision or some other kind of agreement."
In November after the last bilateral talks in Vienna, Vitrenko said that Ukraine will never cut off Europe-bound supplies of Russian gas, even if Moscow and Kiev fail to sign a new gas transit agreement by the end of the year. "Ukraine will not cut off gas. Ukraine has never cut off gas, and this must be understood. We have no tradition of appearing on TV screens and saying: ‘We are cutting off gas now,’" Vitrenko told Germany’s Deutsche Welle. He said that if Russian gas enters the country’s transit system without a relevant contract signed, Ukraine will pump it into its underground gas storage facilities. "We will wait for official documents. Only after that the transit operator company will send this gas to wherever the owner with all the necessary documentation wants it to be sent," Vitrenko added. At the same time, the Naftogaz chief admitted that Ukraine’s gas storage capacities are limited. "The aggregated gas storage capacity of Ukraine is approximately between 25 to 30 billion cubic meters. Now they hold up to 21 billion cubic meters of gas. But we use this gas, so the capacity will be larger in winter," he added.