KIEV, Ukraine, April 26 (UPI) -- Kiev could generate $6 billion per year in revenue for gas transits if Russian and the European Union back infrastructure upgrades, Ukrainian officials said.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said his country could start making money if Kiev were able to persuade Russia and the European Union to fund upgrades to its gas transit network, Russian state-run news agency RIA Novosti reports.
Kiev pressed Moscow for revisions to a 2009 gas deal that placed stiff penalties and payment obligations on Ukraine. Both sides last week agreed to a revised deal for a 30-percent discount for Russian natural gas in exchange for an extended lease on a Russian naval base in the Crimea.
Azarov said the revised gas deal opens the door for further cooperation in the Ukrainian energy sector.
"For example, gas transit -- if we manage to persuade the European Union and Russia to invest in the modernization of our gas transportation system, then we will have about $6 billion in annual revenues just from the gas transportation system," he told Ukraine's ICTV news station.
Azarov said in early April that working with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development was vital to modernizing the gas transit network.
"Our task is to modernize the (gas transportation) system so that our pipeline becomes the most profitable and efficient for pumping gas to Europe," he said.
Soviet-era pipelines in Ukraine transport about 80 percent of the Russian gas bound for Europe.