Russia and Ukraine conducted bilateral gas negotiations in Vienna on November 28, the Russian media reported, citing the Russian Ministry of Energy.
The consultations were reportedly attended by Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak, Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller, Ukrainian Minister of Energy and Environmental Protection Oleksiy Orzhel, and the directors of Naftogaz of Ukraine and the Operator of the Gas Transport System of Ukraine.
“The parties discussed Russian-Ukrainian collaboration in the gas sphere, settlement of mutual contract implementation claims, the terms of Russian gas transit to Europe as of 2020, and the prospects of directly purchasing Russian gas for Ukrainian consumers,” the report states.
The parties also agreed to work more intensively in the bilateral format in the next few days.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Energy commented on the bilateral meeting in Vienna. The department’s press service stated that work on the terms of a contract to transport Russian gas through Ukraine’s gas transport system is still underway. During the meeting, the representatives of Ukraine and Russia discussed the possibility of signing a contract according to European regulations, and agreed to continue talking.
“Signing a long-term contract for gas transport according to European legislation and on economically based terms is a matter of the energy security not only of Ukraine, but also of Europe. We, as a reliable partner, must ensure the stability and continuity of the transport of natural gas to the European markets,” the Energy Ministry stated.
Two days ago, Ukrainian Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk said no separate negotiations were taking place regarding the direct purchase of Russian gas.
Since November 2015, Ukraine has refused to buy natural gas from Gazprom, since Naftogaz believes the price is inflated. The country is currently importing gas through its western border.
On December 22, 2017, the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce ruled that Naftogaz must buy at least 5 billion cubic meters of Russian gas per year until the end of the contract.
At the end of February 2018, Naftogaz made an advance payment for March in order to renew the supply from Russia, but Gazprom returned the money and notified Naftogaz that it had started the process of terminating the gas supply and transit contract.
With the help of the European Commission, Ukraine is now trying to get Russia to sign a new 10-year contract. However, Naftogaz is skeptical that such a deal will be signed. The group’s executive director Yuriy Vitrenko said that Naftogaz needs to prepare for gas transit to end in 2020.
The next trilateral gas supply meeting between the EU, Ukraine and Russia on the level of experts is scheduled to be held in Brussels on November 29.