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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Itera Files $48M Suit to Recover Ukraine Gas Debts

Gas transportation firm Itera said it had filed suits in a Moscow court to try and recover $48 million from Ukrainian consumers.

The court action is part of a fight between Russia and Ukraine over gas debts.

The country owes Russia at least $1.4 billion, by some estimates as much as $3 billion. A final deal on restructuring the payments has yet to be signed.

An Itera official said late Monday the company had filed suits with the International Commercial Arbitration Court of the Russian Trade Chamber.

They included a more than $24 million suit against Ukrainian generating company Tsentrenergo and two gas wholesalers: a $16.8 million suit against the Ukrainian Energy Company and a $7.3 million suit against Ukrenergosbyt.

The official said that Ukraine's total debt to Itera amounted to about $350 million.

The head of Tsentrengergo said his company did have debts to Itera, but hoped to pay them off before any court action.

"We have such a debt," Tsentrenergo deputy chairman Mykhailo Salivon said in Kiev.

"We are considering the possibility of taking a loan and repaying the debt with the loan," he added. "We will try to agree [with Itera] without the court's involvement."

He also said Tsentrenergo had not yet received an official statement from Itera on the suit and that the firm had paid for 85 percent of Itera's gas.

The court action related to supplies made last year, he added.

Ukraine consumes about 76 billion cubic meters of gas annually. It produces only 18 bcm itself and the rest comes from Russia and Turkmenistan.

Russian deliveries come from gas monopoly Gazprom, to which Ukraine owes at least $1.4 billion.

Gazprom also carries gas to European markets through Ukraine's territory and has accused Kiev of pilfering gas on the way.

The International Commercial Arbitration Court last week held a hearing into the alleged illegal siphoning of 1.1 bcm of Gazprom gas by Ukraine in the first half of 2000. The court made no ruling, and Ukraine said the suit was surprising.

Itera, which has a hazy link to Gazprom, supplied Ukraine with about 32 bcm of Turkmen gas in 2000 but stopped deliveries this year due to debts.