Minister: Kiev has lots of gas in storage

Feb. 13, 2012 at 8:35 AM

KIEV, Ukraine, Feb. 13 (UPI) -- Ukraine can meet any extra European demand for natural gas through resources stored in domestic facilities, the country's energy minister said.

Hundreds of people died and thousands of people were left stranded due to an arctic blast that hit most of Europe this month. The weather pattern is expected to break this week, however.

Russian natural gas company Gazprom had said it struggled to keep up with the increased European demand during the cold snap. Yuri Boiko, Ukraine's energy minister, told CNN that Kiev had filled underground storage tanks with enough gas to get through this year's heating season.

"We can supply gas (to Europe) from our own gas storing facilities," he was quoted as saying.

Kiev had said it was cutting the amount of gas it purchases from Gazprom, though the take-or-pay scheme outlined in Ukraine's current natural gas deal means the government would likely have to pay even for what it doesn't use, however.

Ukrainian officials are trying to get a new gas price agreement with Russia. The government claims the current deal, signed in 2009, is damaging an economy battered by economic recession. Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko is serving a seven-year prison term after being convicted on charges she abused her authority in the 2009 gas deal.

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