Russia has sent a colossal $7bn bill to the Ukrainian government for gas it commissioned under long-term contracts but did not use.

The Russian move is seen as retaliation for the announcement by Ukraine of a deal with Royal Shell to develop shale gas in the Donetsk region of the country. The Ukraine wishes to reduce dependency on Russian gas.

The European Commission said it expected both sides to make sure that shipments of gas to the EU remain uninterrupted, despite the disagreement.
Ukraine and Russia flags
News media reported over the weekend that Gazprom sent Ukraine’s Naftogas a $7bn bill under a ‘take-or-pay’ clause that Ukraine has to disburse even if it hasn’t imported the gas.

According to the Kyiv Post, in 2012 Ukraine bought 32.9 billion cubic metres (bcm) of Russian gas, while according to the take-or- pay clause it should have imported a minimum of 42 bcm.

The long-term contract was agreed in 2009 under former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who is serving a 7-year prison sentence for abuse of power over the signing of this agreement.

The EU executive is monitoring the looming dispute, reports Euractiv.

“We do expect both parties, Russia and Ukraine, to ensure that there are no gas interruptions and gas supplies to flow normally as usual,” said Marlene Holzner, spokesperson for Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger.

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