Russian gas set to flow through Ukraine

Russia’s state-controlled gas company Gazprom said it would resume supplies to Europe via Ukraine at 0700 GMT today, nearly two weeks after a contract row cut flows to freezing European countries.

The order to start pumping gas again followed the signing of a 10-year gas contract between Moscow and Kiev and late-night talks between Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and officials from the Gazprom gas export monopoly. Officials have said it would take 36 hours or more after the restart for the pipeline system to become operational again and for gas to reach Europe, parts of which have had to ration supplies to households and business because of the dispute. “For the EU, the decisive moment will come when renewed supplies are registered at its borders,” Martin Riman, industry minister for the Czech Republic, which holds the EU’s rotating presidency, said after the new contract was signed yesterday. Russian media quoted Tymoshenko as saying after her talks in Moscow that under the new contract her country would pay about $230 per 1000 cubic metres of gas in 2009. That is a figure that officials in Ukraine, struggling with a deep economic slump, say they can just about afford to pay. The dispute follows a shorter disruption three years ago and has once again called into question the credibility of Russia and Ukraine as reliable energy suppliers for Europe.

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