Ukraine seeks to sell Turkmen gas to Belarus to cut Russian dominance - report

MOSCOW (AFX) - Ukraine plans to sell Turkmen gas to its northern neighbour Belarus, to reduce Belarus' dependence on Russia for gas supplies, Russian newspaper Kommersant reported.

Kommersant said that the head of Ukrainian gas transit company Ukrtransgaz, Yaroslav Marchuk, had been in Belarus last week for talks on the matter.

The article portrayed the plan as another effort by Ukraine to circumvent Russia's dominance of energy supplies.

'In 2007, it would be possible to deliver to Belarus up to 10 bln cubic metres of gas from' the volume sold to Ukraine by Turkmenistan, the paper quoted an unnamed source in the Ukrainian cabinet office as saying.

The project would involve restoring and reversing the direction of flow of an existing pipeline between Belarus and Ukraine, the report said.

'The main reason Belarus is forced to turn to us is that we have the most favourable conditions for gas supplies' in the region, the source said.

'The price of gas for Ukraine won't exceed 135-140 usd for 1,000 cubic metres' whereas Russia's Gazprom wants to charge Belarus 200 usd per 1,000 cubic metres, the source said.

Kommersant said Belarus has officially denied reports of the talks and the newspaper noted that Belarus is negotiating with Russia on the price it pays it for gas.