Ukraine's national energy company Naftogaz plans to purchase up to 1.8 billion cubic meters of natural gas from Gazprom in September, Fuel and Energy Minister Yuriy Prodan said on Wednesday, according to RIA Novosti.

"We will buy around 1.5 billion cubic meters... the month is not yet over. We may buy up to 1.8 billion cubic meters," Prodan said, adding that some of the gas would be for domestic industrial use and some for underground storage.

Prodan said Ukraine has so far pumped 26.1 billion cubic meters of gas into its storage facilities.

Gazprom Deputy CEO Valery Golubev said in early September that Ukraine needed to store at least 28 billion cubic meters of Russian gas to meet its requirements and ensure uninterrupted gas transit to Europe.

In early September, Naftogaz officially approached Gazprom with a request to cut Ukraine's contracted gas imports in 2010 from 52 billion cu m to 33 billion cu m.

Naftogaz has requested 14 billion cu m of natural gas from Russia for October-November this year to bring total imports for 2009 to 32 billion cu m., below the contracted volume of 40 billion cu m.

Ukraine is liable to penalties for under-importing under a bilateral agreement with Gazprom only if the shortfall exceeds 20%.

Russia, which supplies around one quarter of Europe's gas, briefly shut down supplies via Ukraine's pipeline system at the start of the year amid a dispute unpaid bills and new prices.

The conflict was resolved in January, when Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian premier Yulia Tymoshenko reached a deal on imports and transit for 2009.

The ex-Soviet state transits around 80% of Russia's Europe-bound gas.


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