KIEV, November 12 (RIA Novosti) – Ukrainian state gas company Naftogaz has no plans to resume gas imports from Russia’s energy giant Gazprom before the end of the year, a Ukrainian daily newspaper reported Tuesday.
The falling demand for energy in Ukraine, one of the largest consumers of Russian gas, has been caused by unseasonably warm weather, Kommersant-Ukraina said, citing unnamed sources.
Ukraine, which currently owes Gazprom hundreds of millions of dollars for gas, will review its plan to halt gas imports if the country should need more fuel as a consequence of very cold weather, the newspaper reported. The mild weather is forecast to continue through the end of the year.
“Ukraine does not need additional fuel. Right now the weather is quite warm and the accumulated gas supplies in underground storage facilities are enough,” a source told the newspaper.
In a bid to diversify its gas supply, Ukraine has increased imports from Europe in the past years, operating its pipelines in reverse mode.
Kiev started buying gas from Germany via Poland last November and importing gas from Hungary earlier this year. The country is also negotiating for supplies from Romania and Slovakia.
A spokesman for Polish gas pipeline operator Gaz-System said its deliveries to Ukraine had tripled this month.
About 3.2 million cubic meters of gas was pumped to Ukraine on November 6. The amount grew to about 4.5 million cubic meters by November 10. Before then, the daily average had usually been 1.2-1.5 million cubic meters.
UNIAN news agency on Monday cited a Russian energy official as saying that Kiev had stopped buying gas from Gazprom on November 9. In the first days of November, Ukraine bought about 9-10 million cubic meters of Russian gas daily, Nikolai Orlov said.
On Tuesday, Ukraine's Segodnya newspaper cited a source at Naftogaz as saying that Kiev had bought about 200 million cubic meters of Russian gas this month, which is about five times less than average.
The halt to imports comes at a time of increased tension between Moscow and Kiev. Earlier this month, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said there was a crisis in Ukrainian-Russian energy relations, and demanded that Kiev pay an $882 million gas bill.
In addition to the latest gas spat, Ukraine has repeatedly rejected Russia’s overtures to join a Moscow-led Customs Union and is instead due to sign a series of free-trade and association deals with the European Union this month – a step Russia has called “suicidal.”
(Updated to include information about increased gas supplies from Europe)