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Gazprom, Naftogaz sign long-term cooperation deal - paper

KIEV, October 23 (RIA Novosti) - Russian natural gas monopoly Gazprom and Ukraine's national energy company Naftogaz have signed a long-term cooperation deal envisaging direct gas supplies without any intermediaries, a Ukrainian daily said on Thursday.

Under the deal, Ukraine will receive Russian natural gas directly from Gazprom, Zerkalo Nedeli reported. Naftogaz will be the sole importer of Russian natural gas. Ukraine has imported around 55 billion cubic meters of gas annually in the past few years.

RosUkrEnergo, which was established in July 2004 on a parity basis between Gazprom and Naftogaz, has since been the exclusive supplier of natural gas to Ukraine. RosUkrEnergo supplies Ukraine with most of the natural gas it gets from Gazprom and delivers the rest to Europe.

The newspaper reported that the contract does not fix gas volumes to be bought from Gazprom in 2009 or beyond, nor does it give any approximate price. However, the two parties will stick to the previous $179.5 per 1,000 cubic meters until the end of this year.

Under the deal, Ukraine and Russia have to sign a contract for gas supplies to Ukraine and a bilateral gas transit agreement by November 1.

The deal also prohibits Naftogaz from re-exporting Gazprom gas unilaterally, but the two parties are allowed to supply some volumes to Europe jointly.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart, Yulia Tymoshenko, agreed at the start of October on a memorandum on direct natural gas supplies from Gazprom and Naftogaz without intermediaries. The parties are to move to market prices for gas over the next three years.

Ukraine expects Russia to fix a gas price for 2009 after signing contracts with Central Asian countries, which pump natural gas to Ukraine via Russia.

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