Ukraine's national energy company Naftogaz, which pays for Russian natural gas deliveries, will balance on the brink of a default in 2010, the Ukrainian president's energy security envoy said on Monday.
"Regrettably, there is the threat of a default [by Naftogaz]," Bohdan Sokolovskiy said, urging the Ukrainian government to review gas contracts with Russia.
Russia, which supplies around one quarter of Europe's gas, briefly shut down supplies via Ukraine's pipeline system at the start of 2009 amid a dispute over unpaid bills and new prices.
The conflict was resolved in January 2009, when Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Yulia Tymoshenko reached a deal on imports and transit.
Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has consistently called for the deal to be reviewed, something that has been ruled out by both Russia and Tymoshenko, once an ally of Yushchenko but now a bitter rival.
Sokolovskiy said Naftogaz would have to pay around $10 billion for Russian natural gas to be supplied to the ex-Soviet republic in 2010 while the Ukrainian energy company's budget deficit this year was expected at $4 billion, even despite reduced gas imports from Russia.
At the same time, the president's energy aide said Ukraine was receiving too little for Russian natural gas transit to Europe, with receipts in 2010 expected at $3.2 billion, of which Sokolovskiy said almost $2 billion would be spent on the purchase of technological gas to provide for gas transit.
On December 31, the IMF permitted the Ukrainian government to spend $2 billion from the National Bank's gold and foreign exchange reserves to pay for Russian gas deliveries for the last month of the year.
KIEV, January 11 (RIA Novosti)