By Pavel Polityuk
KYIV, May 19 (Reuters) – Kyiv would consider allowing Russian ammonia to transit its territory for export on condition the newly-renewed Black Sea grain deal is expanded to include more Ukrainian ports and a wider range of commodities, a government source told Reuters.
The comments are the first time Kyiv has publicly laid out its stance on Russian ammonia, which Moscow wants shipped via the Black Sea under the agreement.
The Black Sea Grain Initiative brokered by Turkey and the United Nations in July last year facilitates “the safe navigation for the export of grain and related foodstuffs and fertilisers, including ammonia” from three Ukrainian ports.
The Ukrainian government source, who asked not to be named, told Reuters the language of the deal does not cover the transit of Russian ammonia across Ukraine.
Russia, a major ammonia exporter, has pressed for ammonia supplies to resume through a pipeline from Russia’s Togliati to the Black Sea port of Pivdennyi, near Odesa, which is designed to pump up to 2.5 million tonnes of ammonia annually.
Russia used to export 4.4 million tonnes of ammonia a year – 20% of global seaborne trade – before it invaded Ukraine in February last year.
The United Nations has also supported the resumption of ammonia shipments through the pipeline to try to help global food security.
Despite Russian threats to pull out of the deal, the Black Sea deal was extended for two months on Wednesday a day before it was due to expire.
MORE PORTS, MORE GOODS
Only three of Ukraine’s major Black Sea ports are included in the agreement. Kyiv has repeatedly said it would like the deal to cover more goods and ports.
The government source said the text agreed on Wednesday made no mention of the Togliati-Odesa ammonia pipeline and transit and a further agreement would be needed if the Ukraine route is to be covered. In return, Ukraine would make demands.
“We say the following – if it (the deal) includes an ammonia pipeline, then Ukraine should get some additional things which will serve our national interests,” the source said.
“That is the expansion of the agreement’s geography and the list of goods (for export via corridor). Then that could serve the interests of our country.”
The source did not clarify the additional commodities Ukraine wanted included.
Officials have previously said the country, which used to export steel across the Black Sea, needs to export steel products.
(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; editing by Tom Balmforth and Barbara Lewis)
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