Prime Minister Vladimir Putin met with top managers of European gas companies
16 january 2009
Transcript of the start of the meeting:
Vladimir Putin: I'm glad to welcome everyone present. You (addressing ENI head Paolo Scaroni) and I already saw each other yesterday. The two of us have been meeting every day, in Moscow or Berlin.
Good afternoon, everyone.
Talking to my colleague yesterday, I pointed out that it is not us who are blocking the transportation of Russian gas to European consumers through Ukrainian territory. To quote our Ukrainian partners, one of the reasons is the absence of what they call "technical gas".
We do not believe that it is our responsibility to provide them with it. It must be supplied by the transit country. It has always been so, and, I hope, will remain so in the future.
They are asking us to put 140 million cubic metres of gas into the export gas transportation system. I don't have to explain to you why that is necessary - this gas should work as a piston pushing gas for export. They have also asked for 21 million cubic metres of gas per day for compression stations. In the letter we have received, they are proposing that we transfer all this property (whose value in the first quarter of this year is estimated at $730 million) to a Ukrainian gas company. They have promised to pay for it later, but, regrettably, have not specified on what terms or when.
We all know that the consumers of Russian gas in several European countries have found themselves in a predicament. I don't think that we should search today for who is to blame. We should not politicise the situation but should look at it practically, from the economic and technical viewpoints. We must think about people who are suffering today in some parts of Europe, and about sectors of the economy that are experiencing difficulties.
I repeat: Providing this gas is the responsibility of a transit country. But under the circumstances, I believe we should think of helping our Ukrainian partners.
We are interested in supplying gas. Today, Gazprom is sustaining major losses, more than $1,100,000. Nevertheless, we consider it absolutely unfair to have to supply additional - and quite large - amounts of gas to our partners for free.
You are interested in our gas reaching European consumers, including your companies. We propose to share risks and set up something like a consortium, invest money in it and supply the technical gas to Ukraine to secure the transit of Russian natural gas to European consumers. This can be done reasonably fast.
Paolo Scaroni (as translated): All right. Thank you very much, Mr Prime Minister. After our meeting in Moscow yesterday, we made intensive efforts to arrange a meeting of the three main consumers of Russian gas supplied to Europe through Ukraine's gas transportation network - E.ON, Gaz de France and ENI. In addition, we have contacted a number of other important consumers of Russian gas, such as RWE, Wingas, and Austrian OMV.
Our task now is to work together on a concrete proposal, which should be agreed on in the next several hours. Needless to say, this work will be done in cooperation with Gazprom, and we are hoping very much that it will help us arrive at the required solutions.
I would like to ask our E.ON colleague to act as a speaker for our group. He would present to you his own views and our shared ideas on the basic principles of a future agreement on the proposed consortium. I'm not sure if we should conduct this work in a large group because there is a host of specific, detailed issues here.
Vladimir Putin: I agree, though we have no secrets. In fact, the more people know about what is happening, the better. But, of course, I understand what you are saying - there are some commercial issues involved here. But we should organise gas supplies as soon as possible because, as you know, our gas tap has been open for several days now. Today, we have again made a request for the transit of gas through Ukrainian territory, and it has been turned down again.
Paolo Scaroni: Allow me to assure you that we will do everything we can to find a solution to the problem as soon as possible. We will spare no efforts to this end.