Belarus concedes contract gas price at $184 per 1,000 cu m

MOSCOW, June 23 (Itar-Tass) - Belarus has conceded the contract price of gas in payments for Russian supplies in May. Beltransgaz paid for the supplies in May at the rate of 184 dollars per 1,000 cubic meters, PRIME-TASS reported.

The payment amounted to 260,134 million dollars. Beltransgaz calculated the sum in accordance with the contract of gas supplies dated December 31, 2006.

Therefore, Belarus acknowledged the necessity to pay for natural gas under the price formula stipulated in the contract.

Earlier, Belarus paid for Russian gas under the price it fixed unilaterally: at 150 dollars per 1,000 cubic meters.

Gazprom officials underlined that Beltransgaz must promptly discharge the 192-million-dollar debt for the supplies of gas since the beginning of this year.

Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko said Russian gas is supplied to Europe through Belarus in full at present.

In case of necessity, Russia and Europe may send independent observers to register unsanctioned tapping of gas, but no such necessity has arisen so far, Shmatko said.

Shmatko's adviser Irina Yesipova told reporters that the Energy Ministry has no information about reduced supplies to Europe, PRIME-TASS reported.

On Wednesday morning, Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said Russia had cut supplies of natural gas to Belarus by 60 percent.

"We have two pieces of news. One is good, the other is bad. The transit of Russian gas through the territory of Belarus is effected in full, and the consumers of Russian gas have no problems with supplies," Miller said.

"The bad news is that Belarus is making no attempts to pay the debt for supplied gas. On June 23, at 10:00, Moscow time, Russia restricted the supplies of gas to Belarus by 60 percent. The restriction of supplies will continue in proportion to the outstanding liability," he added.

On Wednesday, the Belarusian government and Gazprom were expected to continue consultations over the mechanism to discharge mutual debts, in accordance with the agreement between Belarusian Prime Minister Sergei Sidorsky and Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller reached during a telephone conversation on Tuesday.

The Belarus leader, Alexander Lukashenko, called the conflict "a gas war."

According to Lukashenko, Gazprom owes Belarus 260 million dollars for gas transit in the first half.

In Lithuania, a representative of Lietuvos dujos - the operator of gas pipelines - said Russian gas is supplied to the country without interruptions.

"Natural gas is pumped into our networks through Belarus as usual. Lithuania's gas system functions in normal mode," Sigita Petriokonyte-Jurkuniene told reporters on Wednesday.

Russia supplies natural gas to its westernmost Kaliningrad region through Lithuania.

Petriokonyte-Jurkuniene said Lietuvos dujos had taken measures to pump gas through Latvia, in case of emergency. "There is no such need at present," she said.


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