Gazprom to Keep Belarus Gas Supply Cut Until Payment Received

By Anna Shiryaevskaya

June 23 (Bloomberg) -- OAO Gazprom "must see the money" before lifting natural-gas supply reductions to Belarus, spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov said today, commenting on reports that the country paid off its debt for natural-gas supplies.

Belarus paid its debt for natural-gas supplies to OAO Gazprom in full, transferring $187 million to Gazprom at 4 p.m. local time today, Interfax reported, citing First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Semashko.

Gazprom, Russia's gas export monopoly, reduced deliveries to Belarus by 60 percent today, demanding $192 million for past deliveries, Chief Executive Officer Alexei Miller said. The Moscow-based company widened the cut from 30 percent yesterday and 15 percent the day before, Miller said.

Belarus borrowed $200 million to make the payment, and demands that Gazprom pay off its own $260 million debt for transits of the Russian fuel further to Europe by 10 a.m. in Minsk time tomorrow, Interfax quoted Semashko as saying.

Belarus will halt the transit if the payment isn't made, the Moscow-based news service quoted the official from Minsk.

The dispute over mutual debts jeopardized gas deliveries to the European Union, which gets about 20 percent of Russian gas from across Belarus, the second transit route after Ukraine. Gas flows across Belarus to Lithuania, and Russia's Kaliningrad exclave on the Baltic Sea, dropped 40 percent at 4 p.m. in Vilnius today, Lietuvos Dujos AB spokeswoman Sigita Petrikonyte- Jurkuniene said by phone.

--Editors: Rob Verdonck, Randall Hackley


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