Paris Supports Gas Upgrades In Ukraine

KIEV, Ukraine -- Paris is ready to consider a proposal in the European Union to modernize Ukraine's natural gas transit system, the French envoy to Kiev said.

Jacques Faure

Pro-Russian Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych is working to restore his country's regional reputation as an energy transit nation for the European Union.

Jacques Faure, the French envoy to Kiev, said members of the EU were weighing a proposal to update the gas network, the National News Agency of Ukraine reports.

"At present the proposal is on the EU negotiating table, as well as in France. We are ready to seriously consider these opportunities," he said.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has completed its first phase of assessments on the gas transit system under the terms of a $3.5 million grant.

The recession that rocked world markets in 2009 pummeled the Ukrainian economy and forced Kiev to look to international lenders for support.

The ambassador added, however, that it was important for Russia to state its position on the matter.

Russia sends about 80 percent of its natural gas to European markets through Ukraine's gas transit system.

Russian energy company Gazprom during the winter of 2009 cut gas supplies to Ukraine because of debt issues, leaving Europe in the cold for weeks.

Source: UPI