Turkmenistan Asks Ukraine to Settle Gas Debts

ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan -- President Niyazov told Friday the Ukrainian delegation that further mutual cooperation, especially in the natural gas sphere, was dependent on how soon Ukraine could settle the debts incurred last year on account of gas purchased from Turkmenistan in 2005.

Turkmenistan President Saparmurad Niyazov

The Ukrainian delegation, consisting of Ivan Plachkov, minister for fuel and energy, and Olexi Ivchenko, head of NaftohazUkrainy, landed in Ashgabat Friday morning in the hope of inking the gas supply agreement for the volumes that Turkmenistan has committed for 2006.

Turkmenistan has promised 40 billion cubic meters of gas to Ukraine in 2006. However the Turkmen side has made it clear repeatedly that although the volumes were available for Ukraine, the transportation arrangements must be sorted out with Gazprom that holds the monopoly rights on Central Asia – Centre pipeline --- the only gas conduit between Central Asia and Ukraine.

Ukraine promised on three separate occasions last year to settle the gas debts accumulated between January and June 2005 but the actual delivery fell far short of the promises.

As was evident after Friday’s meeting, Turkmenistan has deferred the signing of formal gas supply agreement to Ukraine pending settlement of previous debts. The deputy prime minister of Turkmenistan responsible for oil and gas sector has been asked to coordinate with the Ukrainian side to determine the exact size of the outstanding debts and examine the proposals of Ukraine to settle it.

Source: News Central Asia