KIEV/MOSCOW, January 26 (RIA Novosti) - Russia and Ukraine have failed to reach an agreement on the terms of a joint venture to handle natural gas supplies, according to the head of Ukrainian national gas company Naftogaz.
Speaking on national television on Wednesday night, Oleksiy Ivchenko said his company and Russian energy giant Gazprom had different approaches to the establishment of the joint venture that was designed to be a key part of the January 4 deal to end a long-standing dispute between the two countries over prices for natural gas.
"Gazprom representatives insisted that Naftogaz Ukrainy be the Ukrainian cofounder," he said. "We suggested that Naftogaz subsidiary Gaz Ukrainy be the cofounder."
However, Ivchenko added that experts from the two countries were currently drafting a new proposal, which could pave the way for a solution to the dispute.
Ivchenko also said Ukraine would exceed the limits for its use of Russian natural gas in January given the high level of industrial and domestic consumption during the cold snap that has swept most of both countries and is now heading into Europe.
He also said Ukraine would pay a higher price for the gas under a bilateral agreement.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov said Wednesday that his country had been using more natural gas than usual recently because of the unusually low temperatures.
"We have reached a consumption level of 427 million cubic meters per day, including 161 million cu m for consumer purposes," Yekhanurov said. "That is 70 million cu m more than previously."
Ukraine consumed 568 million cu m of natural gas in the last 24 hours alone, he said, adding that the government had instructed regional authorities to reduce gas consumption, and was considering shutting down industrial facilities to save energy.
Meanwhile, Gazprom official spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov said Ukraine had already exceeded the January gas limit.
"The additional gas that we are supplying via Ukraine for European consumers is not reaching the Ukrainian border [with Europe]," he said.
Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said earlier that the company would increase natural gas supplies to Europe via Ukraine, despite the gas siphoning.
"We have been increasing gas supplies on the Russian-Ukrainian border daily, despite the complicated situation due to the recent cold spell," Miller said.