Ukraine baffled as $1.1b. gas deal unravels

November 28, 2012 16:21

KIEV - Ukrainian officials scrambled on Wednesday, two days after a vital $1.1 billion gas terminal deal unraveled, to establish whether a man they believed had signed for Spain's Gas Natural actually represented the company.

Vladislav Kaskiv, the head of Ukraine's state investment agency, signed the deal in Kiev in front of Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and the energy minister, with a man his agency initially identified as Gas Natural executive Jordi Garcia Tabernero.

The Spanish energy company quickly denied joining a consortium that would build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal on Ukraine's Black Sea coast, a project Ukraine hailed as reducing its dependence on pipeline gas from Russia.

Gas Natural also said Tabernero had not been in Ukraine at the time of the signing ceremony, a video of which was published on the government website.

Ukrainian officials, who insisted they had struck a genuine deal on Monday and stayed silent on Tuesday, said on Wednesday they were trying to figure out what had happened.

"This was most likely a result of gross negligence on the part of officials," a source close to the government said.

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