UPDATE 2-Russia offers Ukraine 10 pct gas discount -report
Feb 20 (Reuters) - Russia has offered Ukraine a 10 percent discount on gas supplies on the condition that Kiev scraps plans to drastically cut its imports, Kommersant Ukraine newspaper reported on Monday, citing a source close to the talks.
Ukraine has long sought to negotiate a lower price for Russian gas on which it depends heavily for its energy needs. But after failing to do so last year, Kiev has said it would cut gas imports by a third in 2012 to 27 billion cubic metres.
Ukraine, which is paying $416 per thousand cubic metres of gas in the first quarter of this year, sees a fairer price at $250.
In a letter sent to the Ukrainian government last week, Moscow offered it a discount of only 10 percent, Kommersant’s source said, which is in line with the adjustments it made for several European companies last month.
Kommersant quoted the same source as saying that Russian gas giant Gazprom would not give any further discounts unless it was allowed to buy a controlling stake in Ukrainian gas transit pipelines, which carry the bulk of Russian gas bound for Europe.
A Gazprom spokeswoman declined to comment, noting that there had been no high-level talks between Russian and Ukrainian officials on the gas price in about a month.
Ukraine’s Energy Ministry had no immediate comment on the report.
Russian parliament speaker Sergei Naryshkin, who visited Ukraine on Monday, confirmed that Russia had made a new proposal to Ukraine but gave no details.
"(Russia’s) Energy Ministry has now sent the Ukrainian side a new draft agreement that will be subject to consultations and negotiations," he told reporters in Kiev.
But Andriy Klyuev, the secretary of Ukraine’s Security Council, who met Naryshkin on Monday, indicated Ukraine wanted a better deal.
"I hope that both sides will be able to overcome the existing disagreements and work out an optimal, economically reasonable and fair price formula for the gas that Ukraine buys," the council quoted Klyuev as saying in a statement.
Denis Sakva, an analyst with Ukrainian brokerage Dragon Capital, said the gas price issue was unlikely to be settled before the March 4 presidential elections in Russia, which Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is widely expected to win.
"We think a 10 percent discount is not enough to compensate for the high basis price of the contract," Sakva said. (Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov and Natalya Zinets; Additional reporting by Melissa Akin in Moscow, editing by Jane Baird)