(Reuters) The Ukrainian government and Russian gas monopoly RAO Gazprom signed a deal on Wednesday outlining Russian gas supplies to Ukraine in 1998, a government official said on Thursday.
The plan envisages Ukrainian gas imports of 52 billion cubic meters in 1998 compared with 53 billion cubic meters of gas in 1997.
Ukraine received 50 billion cubic meters of Russian gas in 1995.
The official said the deal, signed by Ukraine's First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Holubchenko, also foresaw a reduction in gas prices that Ukraine annually receives as a payment for transporting Russian gas across its territory to Europe.
Ukraine does not pay entirely in cash for gas imports from Russia. At least half the imports are paid for through barter deals using products such as pipes, chemicals and agricultural products.
Kyiv does not demand cash payments from Gazprom for transit fees - worth $2.2-2.5 billion annually.
This year 107-110 billion cubic meters of Russian gas are due to cross Ukrainian territory in transit to Europe. Energy sources told Reuters that Ukraine had agreed to reduce its transit tariff for Russian gas. Gazprom compromised by reducing the price for 1,000 cubic meters of gas to $50 from $80.
'This will allow us to supply customers - first of all the population and budget organizations - with gas for $66 per 1,000 cubic meters,' the official said.
Gazprom also agreed that some 15 billion cubic meters of non-Russian gas could cross Russia's territory to Ukraine next year - compared with a quota of 25 billion cubic meters in 1997.
In addition to Russia's 53 billion cubic meters this year, Ukraine is due to get up to 20 billion cubic meters of Turkmen and Uzbek gas, while annual domestic gas output stands at 18 billion cubic meters.