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Gazprom Hopes To Solve Problems with Ukraine by New Year

Gazprom hopes to find a way to resolve Ukrainian gas debt by the end of the year, Gazprom spokesman said Saturday on Ekho Moskvy radio

"In the remaining days we expect to find a way to resolve this debt other than monetary," Sergei Kupriyanov said, noting that Ukraine owed more than $2 billion.

One option that has been suggested by Gazprom is for Ukraine to receive advance payment for future transit of Russian gas to Europe.

"I hope that in the remaining days we will manage to do this," Kupriyanov said.

He said the Ukrainian energy company Naftogaz had said that it could not clear the debt for November and December in the time that remained because consumers had not paid for the gas.

Kupriyanov said Ukraine would pay a higher price next year for gas, which cost it $179.5 per 1,000 cubic meters in 2008.

Responding to Ukrainian comments that a fair price for gas would be $100 per 1,000 cu m, Kupriyanov said the average price on the European market in 2008 was $400.

"Our position is very simple," he said. "If you think a fair price is $100, then go to the market and buy the gas."

A 2006 gas row between the two former Soviet states resulted in a brief cut in supplies to Ukraine and shortages were reported in Eastern Europe.

Author: Ksenia Kochneva