Gazprom sees 2010 gas price for Belarus up 26 pct

MOSCOW June 8 (Reuters) - Belarus will have to pay 26 percent more for Russian gas this year and its state gas firm is in danger of running up a debt of $500 million to Russia's gas export monopoly, Gazprom said on Tuesday.

The comments will further increase pressure on Minsk, whose relations with Moscow have soured in latest months after an oil standoff and after a dispute regarding joining a Russia-dominated trading bloc.

Belarus will pay $187 per 1,000 cubic metres on average this year comparing with $148 in 2009 and faces the prospect of its debt to Gazprom rising if it continues to underpay for Russian gas.

"It means if nothing changes and (state company) Beltransgaz will still pay $150, the debt will be accumulating from month to month and will total more than $500 million by the end of the year," Gazprom's spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov said Echo Moskvy radio.

Kupriyanov reiterated that Belarus has been paying $150 per 1,000 cubic metres since the beginning of the year instead of $169.2 that Gazprom was charging in the first quarter and $184.8 in the second.

In 2009 Belarus cut import of Russian gas by 16 percent to 17.6 billion cubic metres.

Belarus pays the lowest price among Gazprom's customers but has repeatedly clashed with Moscow saying it should pay less for oil and gas if Moscow is serious about developing closer ties with Minsk.

By comparison, another former Soviet satellite, Ukraine, pays around $234 per 1,000 cubic metres of Russian gas. (Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by Dmitry Sergeyev)


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