Kiev to take up gas slack from Belarus?

KIEV, Ukraine, June 22 (UPI) -- Ukraine can transport more Russian natural gas bound for European costumers if a gas row with Belarus causes supply disruptions, the state energy company said.

Moscow said Belarus owes Russian gas company Gazprom millions in gas payments for supplies from the first four months of the year. Minsk says Gazprom owes a similar amount for gas transit fees.

A Russian gas pipeline through Belarus supplies Germany, Poland and Lithuania. Redirecting gas from Belarus through Ukraine could ally supply concerns, the Platts news service reports.

Moscow, Platts said, asked Kiev last week to stand by for possible additional gas supplies if the gas dispute with Belarus drags on.

Ukraine's state-owned energy company Naftogaz said it was ready for emergency shipments but has so far not seen any additional gas from Russia.

Around 80 percent of all Russian gas bound for European markets travels through Soviet-era pipelines in Ukraine. The remaining 20 percent runs through Belarus.

Gazprom said it would gradually cut gas supplies to Belarus by as much as 85 percent if the dispute lingers.

The Russian energy company cut gas supplies to Ukraine most recently in 2009 over a similar issue.


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