Naftogaz Ukrainy has signed a contract with Norway’s Statoil for gas shipments via Slovakia from 1 October.

"This is the first contract of its kind between Naftogaz and Statoil – it enlarges the pool of gas suppliers to Ukraine and opens a new market for Statoil," Naftogaz’s press service told Interfax.

Naftogaz Chief Executive Andriy Kobolev said the deal and further joint steps considerably increase liquidity and enhance stability on the EU’s energy market, which Ukraine is striving to integrate with.

The details of the agreement are not yet known. "This is what I would describe as a short-term and relatively low-volume agreement. That’s as far as I can go into the details," a Statoil representative told Interfax.

Russian daily Kommersant reported Naftogaz may receive 2 billion cubic metres by the end of the year. About 12-15 million cubic metres (MMcm) of gas pass through Slovakia every day.

Ukraine imported 779 MMcm from Slovakia in September, 177 MMcm from Poland and 90 MMcm from Hungary. Ukraine imported a total of 2.13 bcm from Europe in 2013.

Kobolev’s adviser Yuriy Vitrenko said the contract is revolutionary for Naftogaz. "In a very short period of time we’ve managed to study and apply standard European practices in gas trade, including EFET contracts, and integrate these practices into the framework of Ukraine’s internal legislation. This deal symbolises our belief that Naftogaz is able to change. It, in practice, proves our commitments to reform and ability to act under EU rules," he said.

Ukraine imported 27.6 bcm from Russia’s Gazprom in 2013, 15.1% less than in 2012. Gazprom stopped delivering gas to Ukraine on 16 June because of a payment dispute.

Statoil is unconcerned by Naftogaz’s disagreement over payment with Gazprom. "There will always be various kinds of risks related to most agreements. In this agreement we have some arrangements which reduce the risk element including the payments," the Statoil representative said.

Kobolev visited Statoil’s headquarters in Stavanger on 25 September, a source told Interfax. The details of the visit were not disclosed.

"The Norwegian gas price for Ukraine most likely exceeds $400 per thousand cubic metres [Mcm], which means it is more expensive than Russian gas with the $100/Mcm discount offered [$385/Mcm]," analysts at VTB Capital said in a note.

By Tom Washington and Alexey Egorov