There is no preliminary agreement on a long-term Russian gas transit deal between Moscow and Kiev, a senior official at Ukraine’s state-owned Naftogaz Ukrayiny said Monday, following reports Friday of a draft deal.
Gazprom and Naftogaz held a latest round of bilateral talks in Vienna on Friday, after which Russian news agency RIA Novosti quoted Naftogaz chief commercial officer Yuriy Vitrenko as saying a preliminary agreement had been reached.
However, Vitrenko told S&P Global Platts Monday that he was not aware of “any, even preliminary, agreement on a long-term transit deal.” “We have a preliminary agreement on potential instruments (contractual structure) that can be used for transit if there is a deal,” Vitrenko said.
“And we now have to work extremely hard even to finalize the legal structure, because there are still open questions,” he said.
The current gas supply and transit deal between Gazprom and Naftogaz expires at the end of 2019 and there is a concern that, without a new contract to take effect from January 1, Russian gas transit to Europe via Ukraine could be disrupted.
Gazprom in a statement Friday said only that the two sides discussed “cooperation in the gas sector” in 2020.
Vitrenko on his Facebook page wrote that the two sides agreed to continue to work on transit options.
There is still no date set for the next round of trilateral talks to include the European Commission.
PUTIN, ZELENSKIY TALKS
The bilateral talks followed a meeting earlier in the week in Paris between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
Zelenskiy said the talks on gas were an “important step forward” and that talks on gas would continue.
Putin repeated his previous offer to Kiev that Russia could supply gas directly to Ukraine with a 25% discount.
Gazprom has repeatedly said in recent weeks that it wants to resume direct sales to what was once one of its biggest markets and has linked the issue to future transit by saying it would keep part of its network close to Ukraine operational if gas supplies were needed by Ukraine itself.
Naftogaz has previously rejected the idea of a 25% price discount, though, saying the price Ukraine would pay for Russian gas should anyway be much lower than the rest of Europe given the country’s proximity to Russia.
And it has also said it would be happy to resume Russian imports in lieu of a near $3 billion arbitration award in Naftogaz’s favor.
Ukraine suspended direct imports of Russian gas in November 2015, instead focusing on its own production and European gas imports to meet its demand.
It has said in the past also that it would never resume direct purchases from Gazprom because it was not a reliable supplier.