BRUSSELS, May 21 (RIA Novosti) – The European Commission believes Russian gas giant Gazprom is responsible for deliveries to Europe in the required volumes, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said in a letter addressed to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“It therefore continues to be Gazprom’s responsibility to ensure the deliveries of the required volumes as agreed in the supply contracts with European companies. I also recall that the European Union expects the Russian Federation to activate the early warning system well in advance if ever the need arises,” Barroso wrote.
The next round of trilateral talks on gas between Russia, Ukraine and the European Union is scheduled for May 26. The meeting is likely to be held in Berlin, Russian Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Storchak told RIA Novosti.
Ukraine’s debt for Russian gas deliveries has reached $3.5 billion as of the end of April. Russia has decided to switch to a prepayment scheme due to the outstanding bills, in full accordance with the countries’ contract. Following this decision, Gazprom prepared an advance bill for Ukraine’s Naftogaz for June deliveries. In case of non-payment, Russia can suspend the gas supply to Ukraine starting June 3.
Kiev has no funds to pay for the additional 8 billion cubic meters of gas, worth $4 billion, to be pumped to underground facilities.
The contract with Ukraine includes commitments to transport Russian gas to Europe and responsibility for the siphoning off of gas, Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said. "Gazprom itself will do everything to ensure the European consumers do not have to deal with any kind of problems.”
At informal consultations, major European companies asked the European Commission, the EU’s powerful executive body, to provide political guarantees that the gas will not disappear after it is pumped to the storage facilities.
Brussels has failed to provide such guarantees, the report says. Experts believe that amid Kiev’s chronic non-payment for gas, EU businesses will inevitably take risks to secure the gas transit.
Miller said that even if the Opal pipeline is fully loaded, it will not solve all the problems with gas transit to Europe. The South Stream pipeline is also needed to completely remove all transit risks due to the Ukrainian crisis, he said.