KIEV, July 17 (Reuters) - Ukraine has collected 12.5 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas in underground storage as of July 17, still short of the 18-19 bcm it aims to have in reserve before mid-October, the country's gas transport monopoly said on Friday.
Ukraine is pumping about 32 million cubic metres of gas into reserves every day, Ukrtransgaz spokesman said.
This means that unless the current rate of pumping is increased, Ukraine would be around 3 bcm below its target by the start of the cold season.
Ukrtransgaz started collecting gas in April, taking advantage of a fall in the price of gas which Kiev buys from Russia and the EU.
Kiev this month stopped buying Russian supplies due to a long-running pricing dispute and said it could fill reserves by buying European gas as well as store domestically produced gas.
Ukraine uses gas in its underground storages to ensure supply to domestic consumers in the winter period as well as to guarantee Russian gas transit to Europe. Around 40 percent of Russian gas exports to the European Union cross Ukraine.
Russian energy officials have said Ukraine should accelerate collecting gas and Ukraine's government has ordered Naftogaz to borrow $1 billion to finance purchases.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development said this week it was considering granting a $300 million trade finance loan to Ukrainian state energy firm Naftogaz to buy gas on the European market.
Kiev is seeking to lessen its dependence on Russian gas supplies by buying gas in Europe.
On Friday, Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said liquefied natural gas (LNG) could be an additional option.
He said U.S. firm Frontera Resources Corp. planned to build an LNG terminal on the Black Sea cost which would supply gas to Ukraine. Ukraine signed a memorandum of understanding with Frontera this week during an investment summit in the United States. Frontera has said LNG could be supplied via the Black Sea from Georgia.
Frontera says it has identified combined prospective natural gas resources in Georgia of as much as 365 bcm of gas-in-place at the Mtsare Khevi Gas Complex and Taribani Field Complex.
(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk, editing by David Evans)
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