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PM meeting cements Russia Slovakia energy ties

Russia and Slovakia are working on an energy pact embracing oil and gas, nuclear power and infrastructure projects.

As the New Year approaches, it’s no surprise that energy was the top issue at the meeting of Russian and Slovak Prime Ministers. Slovakia receives virtually all its gas from Russia and it was the worst hit among European countries when gas taps were shut off last winter.

The Slovak PM, Roberto Fico, gained confidence from his meeting with Vladimir Putin

“I listened with the great interest to the information about what Slovakia may expect in the future because of Ukraine’s likely inability to pay for Russian gas. We have agreed with the Russian Prime Minister that if such situation occurs, we will receive timely notification.”

Slovakia is also a major gas transit country. In 2008 it delivered over 50 billion cubic meters of gas to Western Europe. But existing transit and storage capacity need renovation and Slovakia hopes Russia will help.

Slovakia even changed legislation to allow Gazprom to take a stake in the Slovak gas-distribution network. Vladimir Putin in turn promised to upgrade one of the existing Soviet era pipelines.

“The extension of the Druzhba oil pipeline may be rather promising. There is a proposal to extend it from Bratislava to the Schwechat refinery near Vienna. But we need further study.”

Prime Minister Putin insisted that Russia will meet all obligations for gas supplies and transit towards Slovak companies. Later this week, Putin is heading to Ukraine to hold yet another round of pricing talks with Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko.

The Slovak Prime Minister called Russia a reliable supplier. But as fears of another gas crisis remain, Slovakia is pushing the set up of a joint venture with Gazprom which would oversee gas deliveries and build underground storage facilities.