Ukraine has asked Russian energy giant Gazprom to cut natural gas supplies to 7 billion cubic meters in the first quarter of 2010, from 8.75 bcm under the existing contract, according to RIA Novosti.

Talks were held between Gazprom and Ukraine's Naftogaz officials in Moscow on Tuesday to discuss gas supply and transit volumes for the first three months of 2010, Kommersant Ukraine said.

"Ukraine does not need the amount of gas stipulated in the contract, 8.75 billion cubic meters - 7 bcm will be enough," the paper quoted a source close to the talks as saying.

Gazprom has promised to consider the request, the paper said.

If the Russian gas monopoly agrees to cut gas supplies to Ukraine, it will reportedly lose around $600 million in the first quarter of 2010.

Gazprom has forecast that Kiev will pay $300-$310 per 1,000 cubic meters of Russian natural gas in January-March 2010.

Under earlier agreements, Ukraine must buy 33.75 bcm of Russian natural gas throughout 2010 against the initial volume of 52 bcm envisaged in a bilateral deal the two countries' premiers signed early in January to resolve a gas row.

Previous debt payments by Naftogaz, which transits Russian natural gas to Europe, led to a gas dispute with Russia, which briefly shut down supplies via Ukraine's pipeline system at the start of the year.


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