Ukraine, a top buyer of Russian gas, should reduce imports by two-thirds in coming years, Prime Minister Mykola Azarov was quoted on Tuesday as saying.
"(We should) reduce imports of Russian gas by two-thirds in coming years," Interfax Ukraine news agency quoted Azarov as saying in Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine.
He gave no more details, but the Ukrainian government has started discussing measures to cut energy waste and reduce heavy reliance on imports of increasingly-expensive Russian gas.
Ukraine, which imports about 60 percent of gas for domestic consumption from Russia, has said the gas price is too high for Ukrainian goods to be competitive on world markets.
It paid about $350 per 1,000 cubic metres of Russian gas for the third quarter and expects that the price will jump to about $400 in the fourth quarter.
Earlier this month Ukraine's Energy Minister Yuri Boiko said Kiev planned to cut gas consumption to about 54 billion cubic metres (bcm) in 2011 from 64 bcm in 2010.
He also said Ukraine was seeking to cut imports of Russian gas to 12 bcm in five years from about 40 bcm in 2010.
In January 2009, a pricing row between Moscow and Kiev resulted in a stoppage of Russian gas flows to Europe for about two weeks, tarnishing Moscow's image as a reliable exporter and spurring a European quest for new suppliers.
Russia in October is set to launch the Nord Stream pipeline to Germany on the seabed of the Baltic Sea, which will redirect about 20 billion cubic metres of gas currently shipped to Europe via Ukraine.
Last year 95.4 billion cubic metres of Russian gas crossed Ukraine into Europe, and at current rates analysts estimate that Ukraine stands to lose $700 million if Russia cuts 20 bcm.
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