Europe unconcerned by Ukrainian gas transit row - EU

BRUSSELS, October 25 (RIA Novosti) - An EU commission spokesman said Thursday Europe has sufficient natural gas reserves to live through a cold winter and is currently unconcerned about Russian gas transiting through Ukraine.

Ferran Tarradellas Espuny was summing up a meeting of the European Commission Gas Coordination Group in Brussels, which focused on the gas row between Ukraine and Russia. The meeting took place on the eve of an EU-Russia summit in Portugal on Friday, which is expected to discuss energy among other issues.

He said the European Commission had received technical and financial explanations from Ukraine and Russia on the situation that developed, following a threat by Russian natural gas monopoly Gazprom October 2 to cut gas deliveries to Ukraine, if Kiev failed to repay in October its debt exceeding $1.3 billion.

Tarradellas said that Europe had sufficient gas supplies "to survive even a severe winter."

The company and Kiev have since moved to allay European concerns over Russian gas supplies via Ukraine, which were affected in early 2006 during a bitter price dispute between the former Soviet allies.

Gazprom said Monday Ukrainian consumers are settling debts for supplies of Russian natural gas in line with agreements.

Gazprom meets about 25% of the European Union's gas needs. The majority of Russian exports are transited via Ukraine.

Ukraine currently pays $130 per 1,000 cubic meters for gas pumped from and via Russia. In 2008, the price is expected to appreciate further to $143-$180.

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