Slovak Premier Seeks Guarantees Before Shipping Gas to Ukraine

Slovakia will seek guarantees from the European Union that it won’t incur losses on shipping gas to Ukraine, which is looking to diversify its supplies as its row with Russia heats up, Prime Minister Robert Fico said.

The country “is ready” to start reversing the flow of gas to Ukraine, Slovakia’s eastern neighbor, through the pipeline operated by state-controlled Eustream AS, Fico said today. The government is currently reviewing whether such an arrangement won’t violate its long-term contract with Russia’s OAO Gazprom, he said.

“We want some guarantees. We will not ship gas to someone for free,” Fico said at a televised press conference in the Slovak capital Bratislava. “We want to know who will pay for this, whether the Eustream investment will pay off.”

Ukraine is seeking to reduce its gas dependency on Russia after an 80 percent price increase by Gazprom. The country owes more than $2.2 billion for gas it imported through March, raising the risk of disrupted flows to Europe, which gets about 15 percent of its supply through Ukraine.

Slovakia was left without gas in 2009 after a Russian-Ukrainian dispute led to a complete halt of shipments through Ukraine. The country, which consumes about 5.5 billion cubic meters of gas annually, has upgraded its transit network to also receive the fuel from western Europe.

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