Naftogaz: On-shipment of gas not possible

Russian product delivered into Ukraine’s natural gas transportation system to end an embargo on Europe cannot be transported onwards, officials at Ukraine’s Naftogaz Ukrainy energy company said on Tuesday.

”We did not accept it [the Russian gas],” said Naftogaz chairperson Oleh Dubina at a Kiev press conference. ”Had we done so we would have left [four Ukainian provinces] without gas of their own.”

The Russian natural gas monopoly Gazprom on Tuesday morning increased pressure in its pipelines so that a volume of 76-million cubic metres of gas would move daily along a gas main crossing Ukraine for delivery to Moldova and other Balkan nations.

Low pressure in Ukraine’s gas pipeline system caused by a two-week Russian embargo made transferring onward the Tuesday Russian increase technically impossible, a Naftogaz official confirmed to dpa.

The official asked not to be identified as he was not authorised to give comments to the media.

Naftogaz in a company statement accused the Russian natural gas monopoly Gazprom of failing to inform Ukraine ahead of time the size and timing of the pressure increase, making it impossible for Naftogaz technicians to prepare for it.

Any Russian shipment in addition would require a new contract between Russia and Ukraine on gas deliveries, the statement said, as the last contract ran out at the same time the Russians imposed their embargo — on the last day of 2008.

Russia turned off the gas taps to Ukraine on January 1 and later stopped all supplies to Europe via Ukraine, accusing Kiev of stealing the fuel. The row hit Ukraine just as authorities grapple with an economic recession and a weakened currency.

Ukraine opposition seeks to remove govt over gas
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s opposition parties repeated calls on Tuesday for the government’s resignation and a start to impeachment proceedings against the president over the row with Russia that has left the country 13 days without gas supplies.

Ukrainians have started to grumble as some local authorities reduced heating and water supplies, but many have been apathetic or distrustful of all politicians for years.

”We demand … the creation of a special commission to investigate the authorities’ abuse of power in gas supply issues, the quick resignation of the current cabinet and the start of procedures for the impeachment of the president,” Regions Party leader, Viktor Yanukovich, told Parliament.

Yanukovich’s party does not have enough in Parliament to initiate the impeachment or vote of no confidence, and would need to win support from some pro-government lawmakers.

His calls have been backed by the small Communist faction, which has long demanded the impeachment of President Viktor Yushchenko, but votes held by the two groups together fall short of a majority.

Yanukovich proposed a debate on holding a vote of no confidence in the government for Thursday but no motion has been put on the agenda yet. The government of Yulia Tymoshenko has already survived such a vote when it was taken in July.

The procedure for impeaching the president is complex as the Constitution had been tweaked several times. Some analysts believe it may be impossible for now in legal terms.

Moscow-leaning Yanukovich lost to Yushchenko in a rerun of a fraudulent election in 2004 which sparked the ”Orange Revolution”. His party gets its key support from the Russian-speaking east and south of the country.

Yushchenko and Tymoshenko were former allies in the 2004 revolution but have since turned into bitter rivals. A coalition of their parties in Parliament fell apart in September and regrouped only at the end of last year.

Tymoshenko called for Yushchenko’s resignation in December.

Although the government has said it has enough gas reserves to ride out the row for several months, Ukrainians have felt the impact of the cut after some local authorities reduced heating or hot water supplies.

”I hope that this will be the last ‘Orange winter’, but we still have to survive it,” Yanukovich said. ”The misfortunes and problems of Ukraine deepen each day the unprofessional, argumentative and irresponsible authorities remain.” – Sapa-dpa and Reuters

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