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Slovakia signs deal to use reverse-flow deliveries to send natural gas to Ukraine

A technican inspects the filtration plant in a Natural Gas compress station in eastern Germany, March 12, 2008. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matthias Rietschel

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A technican inspects the filtration plant in a Natural Gas compress station in eastern Germany, March 12, 2008. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matthias Rietschel

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia - Slovakia has signed a deal to deliver natural gas to Ukraine, which is facing the threat of a cut-off in supplies from Russia because of a massive debt.

Under the deal, Slovakia will reverse the flow of gas in a pipeline from which it usually gets gas from Ukraine.

Monday's signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Slovak pipeline operator Eustream and Ukraine's Ukrtransgaz is a step forward in Ukraine's efforts to reduce its dependence on Russia.

To be able to send the gas, some technical changes are still needed that might take several months.

Slovak officials said Ukraine could get up to 10 billion cubic meters (353 billion cubic feet) of natural gas per year through the pipeline. That is about a fifth of Ukraine's gas needs.

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