KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine is set to start developing offshore oil and gas fields in the Black Sea from 2010, the country's prime minister says.
"There are oil and gas reserves to last Ukraine for 150 years. From 2010 ... we will launch large-scale development at the expense of government funds," Yulia Tymoshenko said on Saturday.She said the offshore natural gas and oil reserves would belong to the nation, not to "certain corrupt groups."The Ukrainian government earlier planned to develop a section of the Black Sea shelf near the Kerch Strait together with the US oil company Vanco.The Kerch area's reserves are estimated at 10.8 billion cubic meters of natural gas. Production at this section would allow Ukraine to increase its annual gas production by 4 billion cubic meters, and oil by 3 million tons.Ukraine presently produces about 20 billion cubic meters of gas and 4 million tons of oil a year which is about 20 percent of its annual consumption.