The European Commission confirms its willingness to participate in the upgrade of the Ukrainian gas transportation system, Ukraine's Unian news agency reported on Friday, quoting European Commissioner for Energy Gunther Oettinger.
The commissioner said after meeting with Ukrainian Energy Minister Yuriy Boyko that the EU could start gas transit talks with Ukraine and Russia any time the two countries wanted. The commission is also ready to continue its further support of reforms in the Ukrainian energy sector.
Boyko told Oettinger that current Russia-Ukraine talks would not lead to interruptions in Russian gas supplies to Europe.
Boyko said on Wednesday that Ukraine was seeking to cut Russian gas imports to 27 billion cubic meters from the contracted volume of 52 bcm. Russian gas giant Gazprom reacted by saying the current contract did not stipulate unilateral changes in gas purchase volumes.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said on Friday he was sure there would be no new "gas war" between Russia and Ukraine.
At their ongoing gas price talks, Moscow and Kiev have been recently discussing the possibility of creating a joint venture to operate the Ukrainian gas transportation system, a core transit route for Russian natural gas supplies to Europe.
Ukraine has long sought to alter the terms of the 2009 gas deal it signed with Russia. The deal ties the price of gas to oil prices, which have risen strongly since 2009, boosting Ukraine's gas bill. Kiev insists on reducing both the price and the volume of gas imports.
Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said last December that Ukraine estimated the value of its gas transportation system at $20 billion, while Kiev had asked for a $9 billion annual gas discount to reach agreement with Moscow on operating the Ukrainian gas transportation system.
Russia annually pumps about 100 billion cubic meters of gas to European countries via Ukraine, which makes up 80 percent of its total gas supplies to Europe.