ROYAL DUTCH Shell, the world’s largest oil producer, is poised to sign an $800m (£492m) deal to explore and develop shale gas fields in the Ukraine, a presidential official told journalists yesterday.
President Viktor Yanukovich’s chief of staff said Shell and Naftogaz, the Ukrainian state-run gas and oil company, intend to sign a deal today in a move that will help to cut the former Soviet republic’s dependence on Russian imports.
“The agreement envisages $200m for exploration and $600m for gas production. This concerns shale gas rather than Black Sea shelf,” he said.
Ukraine, which imports about 60 per cent of gas for domestic consumption from Russia, has been locked in disputes with its neighbour over high gas prices for more than a decade.
A stand-off between the Ukraine and Russia in 2006 and again in 2009 choked gas supplies across several European countries.
In the latest dispute, the Ukraine yesterday threatened to take Russia to the Stockholm court of arbitration over what it pays for natural gas from Russia’s Gazprom if it fails to secure a “fair” price by October.