News / Europe

Ukrainian PM Leans Toward Gas Union with Russia

TEXT SIZE - +

Ukraine Prime Minister Mykola Azarov says he has no objections to a surprise proposal by his Russian counterpart to combine the state-owned gas companies of both countries if they are treated as equals.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov told a Kyiv news conference his Russian counterpart's idea to unite Gazprom and Naftogaz deserves attention.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin presented the proposal during a news conference Friday in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi.

Mr. Putin says the two government leaders discussed integration of their nuclear industries.  He adds that Russia is prepared to do the same in the gas sector and offers to unite Gazprom and Naftogaz.

With that 12-second statement, the Russian prime minister shut off his microphone and stood to shake Mr. Azarov's hand.  The Ukrainian official says he did not discuss the issue with Mr. Putin before it was made public.  Mr. Azarov adds there is no question about consolidating the two gas companies, if they are treated as equals.  He quotes Mr. Putin as saying Ukraine would gain access to Russian energy resources and assets.

In Kyiv, independent energy analyst Ivan Poltavets told VOA the proposal remains vague.  But he cautioned it could result in an energy monopoly that may kill Ukraine's modest domestic gas industry.

Poltavets says if Ukrainian purchases of Russian gas increase, then Ukrainian gas production will either decrease or it will need to be exported, but that will be very difficult because it would be competing with Gazprom supplies.

Russian National Energy Security Fund Director, Konstantin Simonov, says Russia's plan to build the Nord and South Stream pipelines to Europe around Ukraine applied pressure on Kyiv.  He says Ukrainian leaders did not expect those lines to be built.   But now that Nord Stream construction has begun, Ukraine, according to Simonov, has been forced to deal with Mr. Putin on his terms.  Nord Stream will begin carrying gas in 2011 from Russia under the Baltic Sea to Germany.  From there, it will be distributed to other western European countries.

Simonov says no one is prepared to invest in the Ukrainian gas pipeline system, adding the European Union has distanced itself from Ukraine.  The analyst says the E.U. concern is to get fuel, not whether supplies get to its borders over, through or around Ukraine.  He says the issue of gas transit is for Ukraine and Russia to figure out, and claims Ukraine has no allies or alternatives.

Ukraine's aging pipeline system is in need of repairs and the country's previous leaders firmly resisted Russian attempts to gain control over it.  Konstantin Simonov says such control would spare Moscow the expense of building South Stream under the Black Sea.

Simonov asks why such an expensive pipeline is needed if Russians can get a guaranteed gas transport corridor, which would be their property and their responsibility.  He says gas wars would become impossible, and if there are supply disruptions, they would be Gazprom's responsibility, because it will own the pipeline.

Europe gets about 20 percent of its natural gas from Russia through Ukrainian pipelines.  Bitter pricing disputes in recent years between Moscow and Kyiv resulted in mid-winter gas shutoffs to European homes, hospitals, and industry.

Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has condemned the proposed gas company consolidation as part of a large-scale Russian plan to eliminate Ukrainian independence.  Former President Viktor Yushchenko also considers it a threat to independence that would allow a gas monopoly to dictate terms to Ukrainian consumers.

Ivan Poltavets says both politicians were considered energy sector reformers in 2000 when Mr. Yushchenko was prime minister and Ms. Tymoshenko served as his deputy.  But the analyst says they allowed energy problems to accumulate when they assumed the country's top positions in 2005.  He says those problems include wasteful use of supplies.

Poltavets says Ukrainian politicians do not focus on saving resources or at least reducing consumption, but talk instead about the need to get greater and perhaps cheaper supplies of gas.  This, says Poltavets, is the wrong political emphasis.

Analysts say higher energy prices would force efficiency, but populist politicians refuse to raise them for fear of losing elections.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych recently secured a 30-percent reduction in the price of Russian gas imports for 10 years in exchange for an extension of the lease allowing Russia's Black Sea Fleet to remain in the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol through 2042.  The Ukrainian parliament ratified the agreement without debate, which sparked an egg-throwing brawl last week by lawmakers opposed to the deal.  

Critics argue the agreement violates a constitutional ban of foreign military bases on Ukrainian territory, and also represents a bad energy deal for Ukraine.

Gazprom chairman Alexei Miller says Russia and Ukraine will discuss gas consolidation in Moscow after World War Two Victory Day celebrations on May 9.  There are no details about what either side plans to negotiate.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid