KIEV, July 4 (RIA Novosti) – Reducing gas consumption by one-fifth would be enough for Ukraine to survive the winter, without buying gas from Russia, the head of Ukraine’s state-run oil and gas company Naftogaz, Andriy Kobolev, said Friday.
“We need to reduce gas consumption by approximately 6 billion cubic meters per season, it is 20 percent [of the total consumption],” the Naftogaz CEO told reporters.
On Wednesday, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Ukraine will have to deal with a “full-scale gas crisis” by this fall if Moscow and Kiev fail to promptly settle their gas dispute.
According to the latest data, Ukraine has accumulated 14.2 billion cubic meters of gas in its underground storage facilities. The country needs at least 18.5 cubic meters of gas for the fall and winter heating season and to ensure reliable gas transit to Europe, Russia estimates.
Alexei Miller, Gazprom’s CEO, speculated last week that it is extremely likely Ukraine will begin illegally siphoning off Europe-bound gas in the fall.
On June 16, Russian energy giant Gazprom was forced to switch to a prepayment system for gas deliveries to Ukraine after talks on Kiev’s debt repayment and price revisions mediated by EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger failed.
Ukraine’s gas debt to Russia has been building since 2013, when the country found itself amid a deep political crisis. According to the latest estimates, Ukraine owes Russia $4.46 billion in unpaid bills.