Ukraine's state oil and gas company Naftogaz is seeking a loan of up to 400 million euros ($580 million) from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the country's finance minister said.

The loan will be used to help the company maintain stable natural gas imports from Russia and gas transit through Ukraine's pipeline system to the European Union.

Acting Finance Minister Ihor Umansky told reporters: "We are now discussing 350-400 million euros. We are continuing discussions on the actual sum and the commercial terms with EBRD."

EBRD earlier said its board of directors would meet on November 17 to discuss the issue of support for Ukraine's gas sector. The support program would focus on financing gas purchasing, and investment in gas transit infrastructure.

Ukraine is also seeking a syndicated loan of over $4 billion from European banks to pay it gas supply debts to Russian energy giant Gazprom.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said in early June it would be difficult for the EU to help Ukraine keep up with its payments.

Russia, which supplies around one fifth of Europe's gas, briefly shut down supplies via Ukraine's pipeline system at the start of the year during a dispute with Kiev over unpaid debt.

The conflict was resolved in January, when Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart, Yulia Tymoshenko, agreed deals on deliveries to and gas transit through Ukraine for 2009.

Ukraine transits around 80% of Russia's Europe-bound gas.

RIA Novosti


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