KIEV, June 8 Ukrainian state energy firm
Naftogaz is prepared to attend talks with Russian gas giant
Gazprom provided negotiations are not held in Russia,
Naftogaz said on Thursday.
Gazprom and Naftogaz have been locked in a bitter legal
dispute since 2014, a byproduct of worsening relations between
Kiev and Moscow since Ukraine's pro-European uprising and
Russia's annexation of Crimea.
Gazprom Deputy CEO Alexander Medvedev said this week the
Russian company was ready for talks with Ukraine on gas transit
to Europe beyond 2019, when the current contract expires.
He did not say where any talks should be held.
"The Russian Federation is an unacceptable location for
negotiations between Naftogaz of Ukraine and Gazprom," Naftogaz
said in a statement.
"Naftogaz remains open for discussions with Gazprom in
Brussels or other city of the European Union," it said.
The two companies lodged multi-billion-dollar claims against
each other with a Stockholm arbitration court, which resolves
commercial agreement disputes.
In two separate cases Kiev has demanded a higher tariff for
the transit fee it charges Russia to transit to Europe and to
cancel the requirement "take or pay" for the gas supply deal
signed in 2009.
Last week, Naftogaz said the court had ruled in its favour
regarding the "take or pay" clause, although Gazprom said the
ruling was an interim stage in the court process and the
decision was positive for Gazprom "on balance."
Since 2014, Ukraine has been weaning itself off reliance on
Russian energy supplies and has not bought gas directly from
Russia since November 2015, relying instead on purchases from
European Union member states and its own supply.
But Ukraine remains a major route for Russian gas supplies
to Europe, pumping 82.2 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas in
2016, 23 percent more than a year earlier.
(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; Editing by Edmund Blair)