MOSCOW, April 8 (UPI) -- Kiev might need to change its laws to join a regional customs union but it could save billions of dollars on natural gas if it does, a Gazprom chief said.
Valery Golubev, the deputy chief executive at Gazprom, said Ukraine could save billions of dollars on natural gas if it joins a customs union with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.
"Ukraine, with its annual consumption level of (1.4 trillion cubic feet) of gas, could save $8 billion a year," he was quoted by Russia's state-run news agency RIA Novosti as saying.
He said the price benefit would come because Russian natural gas prices for Ukraine are pegged to European prices.
Ukraine's economy was battered by the global economic recession that began in 2008. The economic pressure was complicated by spats with Gazprom over natural gas prices and contracts. Gazprom, meanwhile, has tried to form a joint venture with Ukrainian utility Naftogaz on the premise it would allay Kiev's energy woes.
Ukrainian law prevents the country from joining an international consortium, though Golubev said amendments might be worth it for Kiev.
"The door is open," he added.