Gazprom, Naftogaz to Start New Round of Talks on Joint Venture

MOSCOW (Dow Jones Newswires), Aug. 20, 2010

Russia's Gazprom and Ukraine's Naftogaz will begin a new round of talks on creating a joint venture, the Russian gas firm said Friday.

At a meeting in Moscow, Gazprom Chief Executive Alexei Miller and Ukraine's Energy Minister Yuri Boiko discussed "development of the strategic partnership between the two companies and opening a new round of talks on creating a joint venture," Gazprom said in a statement.

In April, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin proposed the idea of merging Gazprom and Naftogaz, angering critics in Ukraine who said the move would amount to a takeover of Naftogaz by the much larger Gazprom.

The two companies have quarreled in recent years over gas transit to Europe. Gazprom is a major gas supplier to Europe, of which most is shipped through Ukraine.

Moscow and Kiev have moved forward with a flurry of deals since Ukraine's new, Kremlin-friendly President Viktor Yanukovich was inaugurated in February, replacing the staunchly pro-Western Viktor Yushchenko.

Copyright (c) 2010 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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