MOSCOW, January 13 (RIA Novosti) - Russian energy giant Gazprom gave the go-ahead at 10:00 a.m. Moscow time (07:00 a.m. GMT) on Tuesday to resume gas supplies to Europe via Ukraine.
Russia halted gas supplies last Wednesday over a gas dispute with Ukraine. Moscow said Gazprom would resume the flow of gas to Europe via Ukraine once it was sure that international monitors were in place to fully supervise the process under a new trilateral deal involving the European Commission signed on Monday.
The order to start pumping 3.126 million cubic meters of gas for consumers in the Balkans, Turkey and Moldova came from Gazprom's central control station in Moscow. The Russian gas monopoly plans to pump 76.6 million cubic meters of gas on Tuesday.
Russia's Sudzha gas metering station on the border with Ukraine pumped the first portion of Russian gas across the border at 10:46 a.m. Moscow time (07:46 a.m. GMT).
"The deliveries are underway, and gas has already crossed the border," a Gazprom spokesman said.
A spokesman for the Ukrainian national energy company Naftogaz confirmed the delivery of Russian natural gas for transit on to Europe.
"It [gas] is being delivered," Valentin Zemlyanskiy said.
Ukraine said earlier it would take European consumers at least 36 hours after the restart of Russian gas transit via Ukraine to receive natural gas.
However, Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov said on Tuesday Russian natural gas was expected to reach European consumers via Ukraine straight after the resumption of supplies to the Ukrainian gas pipeline system.
The Naftogaz spokesman warned on Monday that Ukraine would continue using Russian gas being transited to European countries for technical purposes.
Naftogaz says it needs about 20 million cu m of gas a day to meet the technical demands of transiting gas to Europe. However, Gazprom said Ukraine should either use its own "technical" gas, or buy it if the company lacks its own resources.
Alexander Medvedev, a deputy chairman of Gazprom's board, told the Moscow-based radio station Ekho Moskvy on Monday that Russia would charge Ukraine $450 per 1,000 cu m of supplied gas in the first quarter of 2009.
Russia is ready to immediately resume talks on natural gas supplies at market prices to Ukrainian consumers in 2009, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev was quoted as saying on Monday.
"We have a preliminary agreement that the EU will join the negotiating process," Ukrainian Fuel and Energy Minister Yuriy Prodan said on Tuesday.