PRAGUE (Reuters) - Slovakia and Ukraine will hold talks on Tuesday on the possibility of reversing the flow of natural gas to Ukraine, the Slovak Economy Ministry said on Monday.
The ministry said the meeting, at the gas pumping station of Velke Kapusany on the Ukrainian border, would be attended by Ukrainian and Slovak ministers in charge of energy, a high-ranking representative of the European Commission but not the Russian side which the Slovaks had also been keen to involve in the talks.
"We will be proposing to sign a memorandum (on supplies), it has been prepared from our side, although it is not pre-agreed with the Ukrainian side," ministry spokesman Stanislav Jurikovic said.
Relations between Ukraine and Russia have been in crisis since the ouster of pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovich and Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region.
Russia tore up a discount on its gas negotiated under Yanukovich and this month raised the price Ukraine must pay for gas from Gazprom by 80 percent.
Slovakia is well placed to pump gas to neighbour Ukraine should Russia reduce or shut off supplies from the four pipelines that feed Slovakia via Ukraine.
Slovak Economy Minister Tomas Malatinsky said technical preparations may be completed in November. He said Slovak pipeline operator Eustream would invest the necessary 20 million euros.
Any solution must be made in line with existing contracts or in consultation with Russian supplier Gazprom to make sure there are no sanctions against Slovakia for contract violations, he said.
He said that Ukraine must also make commitments on deliveries of actual gas amounts.
Slovakia has mentioned the possibility of using a pipeline between the Slovak town of Vojany and Uzhorod in Ukraine for limited reverse flows of gas of up to 9 billion cubic metres per year.
Prime Minister Robert Fico said last week that Slovakia also wanted guarantees that Ukraine would pay for any gas supplied.
(Reporting by Jan Lopatka; editing by Jason Neely)
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