Ukraine is allowed to reduce gas imports from Russia in 2012 by no more than 20 percent under an existing contract between the two states, Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom said on Thursday.

The bilateral contract on gas purchases in 2009-2019 signed between Gazprom and Naftogaz Ukraina does not stipulate unilateral changes in gas purchase volumes. "The annual contracted amount may be changed upon agreement between the parties at least six months before the commencement of the corresponding year of deliveries. An agreement on changes in the contracted volume must be made in writing," Gazprom said in a statement, citing clause 2.2.3 of the contract, RIA Novosti reports.

The original 2009 gas contract stipulated annual gas purchases of 52 billion cubic meters by Ukraine. Supplements made to the contract reduced the contracted amount of gas to be supplied to Ukraine in 2010 to 33 billion cubic metes in the wake of the Ukrainian 2008-2009 financial crisis.
Last year, Ukraine purchased 40 billion cubic meters from Russia.

Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov said that the parties had not signed any documents on changes in the contracted volume of Russian gas deliveries to Ukraine.

"I would like to stress that the Ukrainian side has never raised the issue of volume cuts in numerous negotiations on Russian gas price reduction. Also, under the contract, the annual change in delivery many not exceed 20 percent. In 2012, the contracted delivery volume is 52 bcm and even theoretically may not be lowered to 27 bcm," Kupriyanov said.

The contract stipulates penalties for Ukraine's failure to purchase no less than 80 percent of the annual contracted volume. Based on the contracted volume of 52 bcm, Ukraine must pay for at least 41.6 bcm in 2012.

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