Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko in the control room of the national gas distributor Naftohaz (file photo) (epa)
April 12, 2006 -- Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has reiterated his support for a controversial natural gas agreement with Russia.
Under the contract, Ukraine is to pay $95 for each 1,000 cubic meters of gas it will receive from Russia in the next five years, up from a previous $50.
"I see no need in reviewing this document," Yushchenko told reporters, saying that Ukraine had secured the "cheapest price" for gas of any of Russia's neighbors.
The deal was reached on January 4 after what Yushchenko called "hard" and "complicated" negotiations. Many Ukrainians have criticized the agreement, saying it will hurt the nation's economy.
Former Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko, whose party came second in March 26 legislative elections, has made it clear that, should she head the new government, she will seek to cancel the agreement.
Yushchenko also said that he hopes Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit Kyiv once Ukraine has a new government.
(5-iy Kanal, "Ukrayinska Pravda")
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- Ukraine consumes 70 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas per year. It produces 20 bcm of its own gas, has a signed contract to import 40 bcm from Turkmenistan, and in 2005 was getting 29 bcm from Russia as payment for transit of Russian gas.
- Ukraine sells some 7 bcm of gas a year to the West and places some in underground storage facilities. These facilities can hold 34.5 bcm.
Ukraine is the sixth-largest consumer of gas
in the world and uses more gas than Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia combined.
- Russia has proven gas reserves of 47 trillion cubic meters (tcm) -- the largest in the world ahead of Iran and Qatar.
Russia sells approximately 160 bcm to Europe each year.
By 2015, Europe is expected to import 300 bcm, or 40 percent of its projected needs from Russia.
Russia's Gazprom is the world's largest gas company.
It is the only company allowed by Russian law to export gas outside the borders of the CIS. It also owns the gas-transportation system and most of the gas fields in Russia.
The Russian state is Gazprom's majority shareholder
, with a 51 percent share. The company's ownership rights changed as of the beginning of 2006, with Gazprom stock being sold on the open market. The Russian state, however, will continue to hold the majority stake.