Belarusian Official Says Threats to Sue Belarus Part of Negotiation Process

Text of report by Belarusian privately-owned news agency Belapan

Minsk, 16 July: Russia's Gazprom's claims to sue Belarus in case it does not pay for the delivered gas are part of the negotiation process between a gas provider and a consumer, the Belapan news agency quoted Belarusian First Deputy Energy Minister Eduard Tawpyanets as saying.

He said that the negotiations for gas delivery have never been easy and have been built on compromise. "And we are looking for compromise this time," Tawpyanets said.

As of now, he said, such an argument is the price of the Russian gas transit through Belarusian territory. "We think that if gas prices increase, so do pumping expenses together with transit costs," Tawpyanets said. At the same time he said that "an additional transit agreement remains unsigned".

On 16 July, meeting Beltranshaz director-general Uladzimir Mayoraw in Moscow, deputy chairman of Gazprom's board Aleksandr Ananenkov said that if the Belarusian party fails to fulfil its obligations to fully pay for gas delivery, the Russian company retains the right to go to court.

According to the formula envisaged in the Belarusian-Russian contract of 31 December 2006, in the second quarter of 2008 Belarus must pay 128 dollars per 1,000 cu. m. But in the second quarter Belarus paid the price of the first quarter, 119 dollars. Thus, Gazprom calculated that the Belarusian debt for the quarter may reach 45m dollars.

Commenting on the position of the Belarusian party, Tawpyanets had said previously that it was decided at the session of the supervisory board of the Beltranshaz OJSC on 31 March that in the second quarter of 2008 Belarus would pay the price of the first quarter - 119 dollars.

Originally published by Belapan news agency, Minsk, in Russian 1642 16 Jul 08.