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16 Jan, 2009 05:35

Ukraine can transit gas - Gazprom

Gazprom has published a letter from Ukraine's Naftogaz admitting it can transit gas to the EU. Tens of thousands of European families have entered their third day without central heating.

Russia's energy exporter says it proves Kiev was lying when it claimed “technical problems”.

Gazprom's spokesman shows a fax from Ukraine offering to transit gas to Europe as bound under contract. Sergey Kupriyanov, says that proves all along Kiev was lying.

“Today we received a letter from Naftogaz saying they could send 99 million cubic meters through the Sudzha pipeline to Europe. That shows Naftogaz always did have the possibility of doing so.”

But the damage has already been done – EU leaders and gas firms say they're looking for alternative supply states.

Kupriyanov was speaking in Gazprom's 'Hall of Fame', which features oil paintings of all Gazprom's former heads. Those heads nurtured uninterrupted supplies to Europe since 1967. This letter, proving the destruction of that reputation was unnecessary, must have them turning in their graves.

EU gas giants E.On, Eni, Gaz de France and Shell have come out of all-day talks with Gazprom to lay the blame fully on Ukraine.

Europe's gas companies are losing millions of dollars every day, as they can't sell on Russian gas to consumers. Mikhail Krutikhin, Partner and Analyst at Rusenergy consultants, warns they're now queuing up to sue Kiev.

“The companies are starting to feel it in a dramatic way. The litigation is going to be very difficult, because there are quite a lot of companies involved in Russia-Ukrainian trade.”

Demands for compensation come at the worst possible time for Kiev. Economists have predicted to this programme Ukraine will announce national bankruptcy before the spring.