KIEV, April 18 (RIA Novosti) – Slovak representatives have informed Ukraine’s state-owned gas company Naftogaz that Russia’s Gazprom has finals say on the direction of the flow of gas across the Ukrainian-Slovak border, Naftogaz head Andrei Kobolev told reporters Friday.
“After lengthy negotiations, we were informally told that this area between the Ukrainian-Slovak border and gas metering stations on the Slovak side are virtually controlled by Gazprom Export and that Gazprom Export decides in which direction to pump gas: to Europe or to Ukraine,” Kobolev said.
The head of Naftogaz added that negotiations with Slovakia on the organization of reverse gas flow are deadlocked.
“We have been negotiating with Slovakia since 2011 to solve this problem at the level of companies, through diplomatic means or by any other ways possible. The situation is now in a deadlock. We see that there is an illusion that the solution of this issue is the signing of a memorandum, proposed by the Slovak side, that will supposedly in some part resolve the issue,” Kobolev said.
This week Naftogaz began importing gas from Poland through a reversal after Russia canceled all gas discounts for Ukraine. The annual capacity of this route is only 1.5 billion cubic meters of gas. To increase supplies, Ukraine is trying to negotiate a reverse gas flow through Slovakia, which according to Naftogaz could supply up to 30 billion cubic meters of gas per year.
In early April, Ukrainian Energy Minister Yuriy Prodan said that Slovakia is delaying the reversal and has offered to build a new pipeline instead of reverse supplies, at a cost of 20 million euros.
Meanwhile, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said his country was ready to help Ukraine and organize reverse gas supplies, but not ready to pay for it. According to him, Kiev is waiting for investment into this project from Slovakia, with no guarantees on the Ukrainian side.