Russia's energy giant Gazprom and Ukraine's Naftogaz will continue talks in Moscow on Friday to try and reach a settlement on the Ukrainian national oil and gas company's debts for Russian gas supplies.

Talks between Gazprom's CEO Alexei Miller and Naftogaz's chief executive Oleh Dubyna on Tuesday showed little sign of any progress, raising concerns of a possible interruption in deliveries to European customers.

Gazprom says Ukraine's Naftogaz owes $2.4 billion for gas supplied in September-November, including fines and penalties, the Russian company previously announced that deliveries for next year will only be discussed once the debt has been paid in full.

Some of the funds have reportedly been repaid, but Gazprom has threatened to cut supplies if it does not receive full payment.

Ukraine, which transits about 80% of Russia's Europe-bound gas, will have to pay $3.057 billion by the end of the year once the cost of deliveries in December is included.

Dubyna earlier said Naftogaz is in talks with a number of banks to clear the debt, but wants to negotiate a deal with Gazprom on direct gas supplies to Ukraine in 2009, without intermediaries, such as the Swiss-registered trader RosUkrEnergo, half-owned by Gazprom.

Ukraine currently pays $179.5 per 1,000 cubic meters for gas imported from Russia or via Russian territory.

A row over gas prices between Russia and Ukraine in the winter of 2005-2006 led to Gazprom interrupting deliveries to Ukraine, which, being a transit country, siphoned off Europe-bound supplies and caused shortages in European states.

RIA Novosti


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