Russia and the European Union clinched a deal on monitoring gas shipments through Ukraine, paving a way for the resumption of deliveries to EU countries.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin reached an accord with Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, who holds the EU’s presidency, on deploying a monitoring commission. Russia and Ukraine still have to resolve their dispute over gas prices, fees and debt that’s hit supplies to at least 20 nations.
Since a previous dispute over gas prices in 2006, European Union nations have diversified their sources of fuel and improved inventories. They are also using more gas, the source of 24 percent of the world’s energy in 2007, to reduce emissions linked to global warming. OAO Gazprom suspended transit flows on Jan. 7 after accusing Ukraine of siphoning off gas destined for other buyers, a charge the country denies.
“It’s high time the EU gets serious about gas security and presses ahead with the creation of a single gas market,” Pierre Noel, senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, said in an e-mailed statement. “The EU must be instrumental in the push for investment” in eastern states.
The deal came after talks in Brussels involving Gazprom Chief Executive Officer Alexei Miller, his counterpart at NAK Naftogaz Ukrainy, Oleh Dubina and EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs stalled as the EU sought to negotiate an end to the dispute.
The agreement “should lead” to Russian gas supplies to the EU being restored, the Czech presidency said on its Web site.