Yevhen Dovzhok, chairman of the Ukrainian State Committee on the Oil and Gas Industry, heads a delegation to Moscow this week to reopen stalled talks on the price of transporting Russian oil over Ukrainian territory via the Druzhba pipeline. In the first week of January, Ukraine abruptly raised its transit fees by 10 percent to $5.20 a ton per 100 kilometers (see Monitor, January 4 & 11). Russian objections to the new price caused a temporary halt in oil deliveries to Czech, Slovak, and Hungarian customers. One reason that a price agreement has eluded negotiators so far is an apparent turf battle between Russia’s Fuel and Energy Ministry and privatized Russian oil concerns. The Ministry argues that transit fees should be settled at the intergovernmental level, but many private Russian oil companies have already concluded contracts with Ukraine for 1996 oil deliveries (see Monitor, January 26). The oil companies reportedly say they no longer need interference from Moscow’s energy bureaucrats. (16)
Mediators Watch Another Setback to Chisinau-Tiraspol Talks.