KIEV, July 4 (RIA Novosti) – Ukraine’s state-run energy company Naftogaz has suggested private companies pump 50 percent of their gas into underground storage facilities and leave it there until January 2015, Naftogaz CEO Andriy Kobolev said Friday.
“Naftogaz has a suggestion to some of its private companies, which we will soon study, and from our point of view, it is a very intelligent compromise. This is pumping 50% of obtained gas into underground [storage] and leaving it there as the property of those companies, and the other 50% they can sell to anyone they like. The pumping will continue until the end of this year and from the beginning of next year, all of their acquired volumes they can bring back up. That way they will also participate in creating a backup supply [of gas],” Kobolev said.
Ukraine has enough gas in underground storage to last through November, and even possibly until the end of the year, if Kiev applies conservation measures, Oleksandr Todiychuk, Deputy Chairman of Naftogaz, said Wednesday.
According to the latest data, Ukraine has accumulated 14.2 billion cubic meters of gas in its underground storage facilities.
Ukraine 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.