KIEV, Ukraine, Dec. 17 (UPI) -- Integration into the European energy community would help Ukraine finance the modernization of its natural gas transport system, the energy minister said.
Ukraine is struggling to repair its reputation as a transit nation after a series of disputes with Russian gas monopoly Gazprom left European consumers in the cold. Around 80 percent of Russia's gas bound for Europe runs through Soviet-era pipelines in Ukraine.
Ukrainian Energy Minister Yury Boiko told lawmakers during ratification of a protocol on accession to the European energy community that participation would accelerate energy reforms in Kiev, the National News Agency of Ukraine reports.
"We obtain additional financial capacities to modernize the Ukrainian gas transport system, namely, access to cheap credits," he was quoted as saying.
Kiev is expected to notify the European Union of its decision to ratify the accession process, which would make Ukraine the 10th party to the energy community by early 2011.
Slavtcho Neykov, director of the Energy Community Secretariat, said he had no doubt that Ukraine's accession would benefit Europe.
"And we will work hard to make sure Ukraine gets efficient support in the implementation of its obligations under the treaty," he added in a statement.