Ukraine and Turkmenistan will soon hold a new round of talks on the schedule of natural gas supplies for the second half of this year, the Ukrainian fuel and energy minister said Wednesday, RIA Novosti reported.

"We are planning to hold the next round of talks with Turkmenistan on [natural gas] supplies to Ukraine for the second half of the year...maybe in a week," Ivan Plachkov said.

In March, Ukraine's national oil and gas company Naftogaz and the Turkmen government signed an agreement on bilateral settlements on natural gas shipments to Ukraine in 2003-05.

Under the agreement, the $88.34 million pre-payment that Ukraine made for 2006 gas deliveries will be counted toward its 2003-05 gas debt to Turkmenistan, thereby clearing the hard currency part of the Ukrainian company's debt and recognizing a $68 million commodities debt that it pledged to discharge by August 10, 2006.

The agreement also said that the Central Asian republic was to deliver 40 billion cu m of gas to Ukraine at $50 per 1,000 cu m in the first half of 2006 and at $60 per 1,000 cu m in the second half. However, Turkmenistan has not delivered gas to Ukraine since the beginning of the year.

Plachkov said the new contract would determine the volume and price of gas supplies not only for this year, but possibly for the next five years, depending on the outcome of the talks.

Turkmenistan became Ukraine's principal supplier of natural gas after Kiev decided to buy less gas from Russia in the wake of a price dispute at the start of the year.


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