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Ukraine asks Gazprom to reduce gas supplies

  Ukraine’s national oil and gas company Naftogaz has asked Russia’s Gazprom to reduce natural gas supplies to the country from the contracted 40 billion cubic meters to 33 bcm this year, a presidential energy aide said on Thursday.

The debt-laden company wants changes to the January 19 deal that led to the restart of gas supplies to Europe and Ukraine, which Gazprom suspended on January 1 over a gas pricing and debt dispute with its former Soviet neighbor.

Naftogaz cited a clause in the contract that allows it to increase or reduce by 20% the amount of gas it buys. Bohdan Sokolovskiy acknowledged that changes to the contract should be agreed at least six months ahead of the start of a year, but stressed the deal signed on January 19 was far form ideal and had been signed without any specialist consideration.

Gazprom said on Thursday it had received the request from Naftogaz.

Earlier this month, Naftogaz warned it might face problems paying for gas supplied by the Russian gas monopoly as Ukrainian utility companies were delaying payments leaving the state-run gas firm short of funds. Russian media reports said, citing sources in Gazprom that the monopoly could again cut off Ukraine if $400 million was not transferred by March 7.

The contract was signed after uneasy talks mediated by the EU. The standoff was resolved after negotiations between Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart, Yulia Tymoshenko. The gas supply and transit contract, signed by Gazprom and Naftogaz, states that the Russian energy giant has the right to switch to 100% prepayment for supplies if payments are delayed.

Sokolovskiy also said in a statement posted on the president’s website that Ukraine should immediately start negotiations on gas supplies in 2010-2019 to reduce deliveries in line with Kiev’s energy strategy. (RIA Novosti)