Gas Pipelines of Ukraine, Belarus Leave Underground

On the threshold of Fradkov's visit to Ukraine, the latter has announced potential creation of a new gas alliance. As it turned out, Ukraine intends to rebuild the gas pipeline to Belarus and ship up to 10 billion cu meters there. At least officially, Belarus turns down the partnership offer for the time being.

On Monday, Ukrtransgaz officially announced the agreements attained with its Belarus' counterpart, Beltransgaz. CEO of Ukrainian company, Yaroslav Marchuk, met Beltransgaz managers in Minsk October 17-19 and discussed the possible storage of gas designated for Belarus in the underground facilities of Ukraine and cooperation in gas deliveries.

By results of the talks, Ukrtransgaz said, the parties sealed the documents setting forth cooperation of controller services of their countries when operating Torzhok-Dolina and Ivatsevichi-Dolina pipelines that connect Ukraine and Belarus.

A source with Ukrainian cabinet shed light on the future alliance. In 2007, Belarus may get up to 10 billion cu meters of Turkmen gas allocated by RosUkrEnergo for Ukraine. Belarus will buy it via UkrGazEnergo (subsidiary of RosUkrEnergo and Naftogaz Ukrainy).

But Beltransgaz will soon set to negotiating the 2007 gas prices with Gazprom. So, it is not surprising that Belarus has denied creation of any alliance with Ukraine. "There have been no negotiations bypassing Gazprom. No one has arrived to us. We don't comment anything," said representatives of Beltransgaz.

Meanwhile, gas negotiations of Ukraine and Russia are nearing the end. In 2007, Ukraine stands ready to buy from Gazprom 55 billion cu meters to 57 billion cu meters at $130/ths cu meters. The final decision could be reached when Russia's PM Mikhail Fradkov visits Ukraine, said sources close to RosUkrEnergo.