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Ukraine yet to specify gas volume for 2006 - Gazprom

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MOSCOW, December 30 (RIA Novosti) - Ukraine has not updated Russia on the amount of natural gas it will need to import from Russia in 2006, a Gazprom official said Friday.

"Surprisingly, as of December 30, they [Ukraine] have not said how much natural gas they want Russia to supply next year," Sergei Kupriyanov, the spokesman for the Russian energy giant, said on the Rossiya TV channel Friday. "They simply cannot give a figure, cannot say how much gas they need."

Kupriyanov said the prices for natural gas fixed in the late 1990s could not last into 2006.

"The price for natural gas and other energy resources has increased several times in recent years. And leaving the price for Ukraine unchanged or slightly raising it would be unreasonable," Kupriyanov said.

Russia and Ukraine have been trying to settle their dispute over Gazprom's decision to raise natural gas prices to the market level of $220-$230 per 1,000 cu m for Ukraine in 2006. Ukraine, which depends of Russian gas for heating and heavy industry, has resisted the demand.

The countries have failed to come to terms in the final days of 2005, and Gazprom said it would cut off supplies at 10 a.m. (7 a.m. GMT) January 1. However, both Russia and Ukraine have assured that gas flows to European markets via Ukrainian territory will not be disrupted.

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