Black Sea Energy Deal Irks Tymoshenko

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine's wealthy elite could reap the benefits of the oil and gas deposits in the Black Sea to the detriment of the public, an opposition leader charged.

Former Ukrainian Prime Minister and opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko greets supporters in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv.

Ukrainian energy company Vanco Prykerchenska is moving closer to an agreement with Kiev to explore for oil and gas in the Black Sea.

Yulia Tymoshenko, a key opposition leader and former prime minister, complained Ukrainian "oligarchs" are set to get profits from Black Sea exploration while the state takes on many of the financial burdens.

"The way this agreement is written and the rights given to the offshore company Vanco, I can say that Ukraine will never get any taxes, products or profits -- nothing," she said in comments posted on her Web site.

"In fact, the Black Sea shelf today is being taken from the people of Ukraine and given to the oligarchs that surround the president."

Vanco Prykerchenska, as early as 2008, pressured the government to make "quick decisions" on exploration in the deep waters of the Black Sea.

Without the deal, the company said at the time, the likelihood that exploration of the Black Sea would take place in the next decade was slim.

Portions of the Black Sea shelf hold about 380 billion cubic feet of natural gas.

Ukraine doesn't have the technology to get at most of those reserves and has focused its technology on pulling minerals from waters west of Crimea.

Source: UPI