Quick-fix deal could restore gas to Europe

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The Independent Online

The Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said he believed a deal could be reached soon with European companies to restart gas supplies to Europe.

Mr Putin was on a visit to Germany for talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel and European gas companies on the gas crisis, which has cut supplies to 18 countries as a result of a dispute between Russia and Ukraine. Under the plan, the companies will form a consortium to provide the gas needed to restore pressure in Ukraine's pipelines to get them working again – 80 per cent of EU gas supplies are transported via Ukraine. Supplies could be restored immediately.

"We propose to share risks and create something like a consortium, invest money in it and supply the technical gas. I think this can be done reasonably fast," Mr Putin said. The Russian company Gazprom said it would supply the gas at market price. Reuters calculated the consortium would need to pay $702m (£475m) to 31 March.

The EU is putting pressure on Russia and Ukraine to resolve the dispute. An EU spokesman said: "The gas must flow. We will regard this period as a test case for judging whether or not they are credible partners." Italy's Eni SpA, France's GDF Suez and Germany's E.ON Ruhrgas are part of the consortium.