EU GAS CRISIS
European Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger has asked Ukraine and Russia to take part in another round of talks to try to solve a gas pricing row on Oct. 21 in Berlin, a Commission official said on Thursday.
The European Union's executive hopes to broker a deal to resolve a stand-off that has prompted Moscow to shut off gas deliveries to Ukraine over what it says are more than $5 billion in unpaid bills.
The sides have yet to agree on future prices for Russian gas deliveries, with Moscow and Brussels pushing for $385 per thousand cubic metres during the winter, while Kiev has indicated it wants long-term price guarantees.
"This date and place is of course subject to agreement by all three sides," the official, who asked not to be named, told Reuters of the proposed talks.
Russia's Energy Ministry said it was checking the report. Ukrainian Energy Minister Yuri Prodan told a news conference he was ready to meet straight away.
"I am ready today - it's a very important question," he said, adding that he may meet Oettinger in Kiev before the three-way talks.
Efforts to reach a deal are complicated by the wider political rift between Kiev and Moscow over Russia's annexation of the Crimea peninsula and the uprising by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.
In New York late on Wednesday, the chief executive of Ukraine's gas grid Naftogaz, Andriy Kobolev, told Reuters he was reluctant to meet when the Russian and Ukrainian positions were still far apart over the EU proposal for an interim agreement.
"Both sides have comments and amendments to the proposal, from what we know the Russian side has some critical comments that we cannot accept," he said.
"We would prefer to meet when at least we have some reconciliation of the comments and positions and at least try to come up with some compromise."
He said the proposed winter price may be realistic but that the proposal had "no such aspect as a summer price, and that means that next summer we are going to have this problem again".
Ukraine, dependent for more than half of its gas needs on Russia, wants to change the conditions of a 2009 contract that locked Kiev into buying a set volume at $485 per 1,000 cubic metres - the highest price paid by any consumer in Europe.
Moscow dropped the price to $268.5 after then-President Viktor Yanukovich turned his back on a trade and association agreement with the European Union last year but reinstated the original price after Yanukovich was ousted in February.
Moscow has halted gas flows to Ukraine three times in the past decade, in 2006, 2009 and since June this year, criticised by some in the West for using energy as a tool of foreign policy to put pressure on its neighbour.
Kobolev said Ukraine needed a commercial deal that cannot be changed in retrospect.
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REUTERS - Brent crude futures LCOc1 were down 72 cents at $61.49 per barrel at 1020 GMT, having fallen by 1.5 percent on Tuesday, its largest one-day drop in a month. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude CLc1 was at $55.12 per barrel, down 58 cents.
BLOOMBERG - Prices dropped during the session as the International Energy Agency said the recent recovery in oil prices, coupled with milder-than-normal winter weather, is slowing demand growth. The worsening outlook for consumption dampened some of the enthusiasm that OPEC and its allies will extend supply curbs.
Global energy needs rise more slowly than in the past but still expand by 30% between today and 2040. This is the equivalent of adding another China and India to today’s global demand.
Product exports have grown significantly over the past several years and are expected to continue to grow as Russian refineries add capacity to produce more high-quality products.