GAZPROM'S GAS BILL: $32 BLN
Russia's Gazprom resumed billing Ukraine for failing to take delivery of natural gas in the third quarter, taking the total amount the company claims it is owed under a disputed contract to almost $32 billion.
Gazprom charged NAK Naftogaz Ukrainy $2.55 billion for gas under contractual take-or-pay clauses after freezing the obligation temporarily last year. Ukraine has 10 days to pay, the Moscow-based company said in an-emailed statement Tuesday. The claim isn't valid and will be decided in international arbitration, Naftogaz said by e-mail.
Naftogaz in 2014 sought international arbitration in its dispute with Gazprom over supply and transit contracts that run through 2019 after Russia's annexation of Crimea and support of separatists in Ukraine's easternmost regions.
Ukraine, once one of Russia's biggest foreign gas buyers, had a debt of more than $29 billion before Tuesday's bill, according to Gazprom. Naftogaz has demanded almost $26 billion from Gazprom in Stockholm arbitration, claiming it overpaid for supplies and was paid too little for transit, with a court ruling not expected before the middle of the year.
Russia agreed to freeze some of Ukraine's take-or-pay obligations last year after the European Union brokered several interim deals between the nations. Ukraine, which supplies more than 10% of the EU's gas through its territory from Russia, halted imports from Gazprom twice last year over the pricing dispute. Eastern members of the 28-nation bloc suffered shortfalls at least twice in the past decade during similar conflicts.
Naftogaz most recently stopped buying gas from Russia in November, saying it had capacity to cope with fuel from the EU given sufficient stockpiles and decreased consumption. While Gazprom said gas transit to Europe could be at risk in freezing weather because of halted Russian imports, Ukraine denied that.
Gazprom has cut its dependence on Ukraine since their last major dispute in 2009, and Ukraine has decreased its reliance on Russian gas, said Andrey Polischuk, an oil and gas analyst at Raiffeisenbank in Moscow. If it becomes "extremely cold," Ukraine may face a gas shortage without Gazprom supplies, potentially threatening transit, he said.
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