August 1, 2008

Presidential Aide Says Ukrainian Cabinet Sabotaging Oil Pipeline Project

The cabinet of Yuliya Tymoshenko is sabotaging plans aimed at using the Odessa-Brody oil pipeline in the originally planned direction, Andriy Honcharuk, a deputy head of the presidential secretariat, has said.

The Ukrainian news agency UNIAN on 1 August quoted him as saying that the National Security and Defence Council had instructed the cabinet to ensure that the pipeline should start pumping oil westwards by the end of 2008.

"In this situation, the cabinet should not look for reasons to keep sabotaging the implementation of this project, which is critically important for national security, but should implement the decision by the Security Council diligently and on time," he said.

Honcharuk said that Ukrainian oil pipelines were currently dependent on two foreign customers, the Russian company Transneft and the offshore Cypriot company Skilton. However, if the Odessa- Brody pipeline is used in the originally planned direction, Ukrainian refineries will have raw material to manufacture oil products, which should help curb soaring fuel prices effectively, he explained.

UNIAN recalled that Prime Minister Tymoshenko had described the scheme proposed by the presidential secretariat as murky, comparing it to RosUkrEnergo, a Swiss-registered gas trader which she has been accusing of corruption for several years.

On 30 July, Tymoshenko backed the plan to use the pipeline in the originally planned direction but said she would oppose the involvement of offshore companies in the project, the agency added.

The 674km-long Odessa-Brody oil pipeline was originally designed to pump Caspian oil to Europe but has been used in the opposite direction since 2004.

Originally published by UNIAN news agency, Kiev, in Ukrainian 0722 1 Aug 08.

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