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Kiev to buy less gas from Russia in 2011?

MOSCOW, Sept. 30 (UPI) -- Kiev plans to purchase less natural gas from Russia in 2011 than contractually obligated, a source from Russian gas monopoly Gazprom said.

Sources to the Russian gas company told business daily newspaper Kommersant that Kiev plans to buy 494 billion cubic feet of gas less than what its contract stipulates, Russia's state-run news agency RIA Novosti reports.

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Serhiy Chekh, Ukraine's deputy fuel and energy minister, said last week that his country has more than 775 billion cubic feet of gas stored in underground facilities, which was "quite sufficient" to meet domestic and European demands.

Ukraine's reputation as a gas transit nation was tarnished after a series of disputes with Moscow. Russian energy company Gazprom most recently in January 2009 cut gas supplies to Ukraine because of disputes over contracts and debt.

Kiev this year received a deal on gas purchases from Gazprom in exchange for an extended lease for the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Crimea.

European lawmakers, meanwhile, passed a measure last week that gives member states two years to design plans to prevent a gas-supply crisis.

"The new rules on the security of gas supply are intended to reduce vulnerability to future disruptions and boost infrastructure development at national and EU level," the European Parliament said in a statement.

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