KIEV, Ukraine, May 19 (UPI) -- Ukrainian presidential candidate Oleh Liahsko said shale gas could help bring a layer of political and economic independence to a new Ukrainian government.
Liahsko, founder of the minority Radical Party, said the Ukrainian government needs to break the Russian grip on the energy sector for the sake of independence. Shale gas, he said Sunday, offers a good possibility for Ukraine.
"We depended on Russia [for] over 23 years [since] independence -- on gas," he said. "And this dependence is not only economic, but political."
European consumers get about a quarter of their gas needs met by Russia, though most of that supply runs through the Soviet-era transit network in Ukraine. The Kremlin has used energy as a geopolitical tool in its disputes with Ukraine, which has moved closer to Europe since a November uprising.
The Ukrainian government last year said there may be enough natural gas in shale reserves to meet the country's needs without imports.
In October, nearly 70 percent of the members the council in Lviv in western Ukraine approved the preliminary agreement for shale exploration with Chevron.
In January 2013, Royal Dutch Shell signed a $10 billion contract to explore Ukrainian shale and in July, British-based exploration and production company JKX Oil & Gas said it started a multistage hydraulic fracturing operation it said was likely the largest operation of its kind in Europe to date
Ukraine holds presidential elections Sunday.