Gazprom says gas transit restored, Belarus threatens freeze

The FINANCIAL -- Gazprom announced on June 24 the full restoration of Russian gas supplies to Belarus and gas transit to the EU amid warnings from Minsk that transit could still be frozen if debts are not paid in full, RIA Novosti informed.

"Gazprom is delivering full volumes of gas to the border with the Republic of Belarus for its domestic consumption as well as for transit to Europe and the Kaliningrad region," the company said.

Minsk acknowledged the receipt of Gazprom's $228 million transit fee payment after Russia resumed full gas supplies to Belarus earlier on June 24.

However, Belarus insists Gazprom "shortchanged" it by paying at the 2008 rate of $1.45 per 1,000 cubic meters per 100 km. Belarusian First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Semashko said the $228 million was only an advance payment, or 87% of the total $260 million owed to Belarus, and the country would suspend gas transit to the EU unless MOSCOW paid all that it owed.

CEO of Belarusian pipeline company Beltransgaz Vladimir Mayorov said the current rate was $1.88, "as recorded in a bilateral protocol."

The Russian gas giant paid the fees after the company's CEO Alexei Miller said earlier in the day that Belarus had settled its gas supply debts of $200 million accrued since the start of the year. He said Gazprom resumed full gas supplies to Belarus at 10:00 MOSCOW time [07:00 GMT].

Gazprom reduced gas supplies to Belarus by 15% on June 21, increasing the cuts to 30% on June 22 and then 60% on June 23.

The dispute erupted after Minsk refused to pay the Russian gas price, set at $169 per 1,000 cubic meters for the first quarter of the year and $185 for the second quarter. The country has been paying only $150 since January 1.


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