Ukraine expects problems paying next gas bill

Ukraine’s energy holding, Naftogaz, has said there are some problems with payments for Russian natural gas supplied in October.

"A complicated economic situation in Ukraine and the growing indebtedness of domestic consumers exacerbate the accumulation in Naftogaz Ukrainy of funds for timely and full payments for the natural gas imported form Russia in October," ITAR-TASS quotes a statement released by Ukraine’s National Joint Stock Company, Naftogaz.

In October, Ukraine purchased about 2.4 billion cubic meters of Russian gas worth some $ 500 million and the payments for it are expected by November 7.

Meanwhile, earlier on Wednesday, Yury Prodan, Ukraine’s Minister of Fuel and Energy, said Naftogaz will pay Russian energy giant Gazprom on time.

Prodan said the funds would come from revenues from the gas supplies to consumers, borrowed funds, and “funds contributed in the Naftogaz charter fund – internal governmental bonds to the tune of $ 2.3 billion”, the minister said.

Information about possible problems with Ukraine paying for Russian gas has been repeated lately from both unofficial and official sources.

On Sunday, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin told his Swedish counterpart, Fredrik Reinfeldt, who currently presides over the EU, about the issue.

On Monday, after talks with Danish premier Lars Lokke Rasmussen, Putin urged the EU to help finance Russian gas supplies to Ukraine.

"If there are any problems,” Putin said, “we ask our European partners to join in and, if need be, provide necessary financial resources in the form of loans."

Putin said the issue was directed to the president of the EU and the president of the European Commission. Putin recalled that the leaders said earlier that loans to Ukraine were possible and that they needed four to six weeks to consider the issue.

“Three months have already passed. It's about time to get something done," Putin said.

The Russian premier also said that Russia had already paid $ 2.5 billion to Ukraine for gas delivered to Europe.

“In other words,” he said, “we rendered large economic aid to our Ukrainian partners by paying for the transit through the first quarter of 2010, inclusive”.

“So let the Europeans give at least a billion. Why are they being so stingy? They have money, too," Putin said.

In January 2009, a gas row between Russia and Ukraine started with Ukraine’s failure to pay for Russian gas and resulted in the two week interruption of deliveries to European gas consumers. Earlier, in January 2006 during a similar dispute, gas supplies were cut for four days.