Ukraine's national energy company Naftogaz will balance on the brink of a default in 2010, the Ukrainian president's energy security envoy said on Monday.

"Regrettably, there is the threat of a default [by Naftogaz]," Bohdan Sokolovskiy said, urging the Ukrainian government to review gas contracts with Russia.

Russia, which supplies around one quarter of Europe's gas, briefly shut down supplies via Ukraine's pipeline system at the start of 2009 amid a dispute over unpaid bills and new prices.

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

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has consistently called for the deal to be reviewed, something that has been ruled out by both Russia and Tymoshenko, once an ally of Yushchenko but now a bitter rival.

Sokolovskiy said Naftogaz would have to pay around $10 billion for Russian natural gas to be supplied to the ex-Soviet republic in 2010 while the Ukrainian energy company's budget deficit this year was expected at $4 billion, even despite reduced gas imports from Russia.

At the same time, the president's energy aide said Ukraine was receiving too little for Russian natural gas transit to Europe, with receipts in 2010 expected at $3.2 billion, of which Sokolovskiy said almost $2 billion would be spent on the purchase of technological gas to provide for gas transit.

The Ukrainian president's envoy for energy issues also informed that to solve the situation Naftogaz raised USD 3 billion worth of loans in 2009 and is planning to borrow another USD 4 billion in 2010.

"Of the USD 6 billion that was spent to make payments for Russian gas, USD 3 billion was borrowed as loans from the International Monetary Fund and Ukrainian banks. This year, of the USD 10 billion required to make payments with Russia, we'll be obliged to raise another USD 4 billion in loans," he said.

Sokolovskiy said that by the end of the year, the amount of the company's accounts payable could reach USD 11 billion (taking into account accounts payable as of early 2009).


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