ODESSA, Ukraine, July 28 (UPI) -- Reforms in the domestic natural gas market in Ukraine and its role as a regional transit nation aren't separate issues, European leaders said.
Gunther Oettinger, the energy commissioner for the European Union, told delegates at a meeting in Odessa that the EU is pressing for reforms in the gas transit and the domestic market in Ukraine.
"Transit will not be totally guaranteed as long as the domestic gas system in Ukraine is not financially sustainable and transparent," he said in prepared remarks.
Russian energy company Gazprom cut gas supplies to Ukraine briefly in 2009. Ukraine transports 80 percent of the Russian gas bound for European markets and the cuts left the EU in the cold for weeks.
Oettinger said modernization of the Soviet-era gas transmission network in Ukraine was needed to ensure transparent, efficient and quality transits.
Reforms in the domestic sector, meanwhile, would give Kiev the opportunity to exploit its own natural resource effectively.
"The EU is helping as much as possible in this process by sharing our experience on energy sector reforms and through our joint project for the modernization of the Ukrainian gas transit system," he said.
International lenders in March 2009 called for investments in Ukrainian sector as the national economy suffered under the global economic recession. Oettinger said he expected "concrete" developments by early next year.