Gazprom Threatens to Sue Belarus for Payment Arrears

MOSCOW. July 16 (Interfax) - Russian natural gas monopoly Gazprom (RTS: GAZP) "reserves the right to go to court if the Belarusian side continues to fail to meet its commitment of making complete payments for Russian gas," a Gazprom press release quoted a senior Gazprom executive as saying on Wednesday.

Gazprom deputy chief executive Alexander Ananenkov issued the warning at a meeting in Moscow with the general director of Belarusian national gas company Beltransgaz, Vladimir Mayorov.

Ananenkov urged Belarus to accurately pay for gas imports from Russia under a contract for the period from 2007 to 2011, the release said.

Ananenkov said at the meeting that the price Gazprom has been charging Belarus since the start of 2008 is the lowest to be used by the Russian company in its exports.

The contract for the 2007-2011 period, signed on December 31, 2006, set the price at $100 per 1,000 cubic meters for 2007.

The price prescribed by the contract for the next three years is based on a formula Gazprom uses for its exports to Europe but with discounts - factors of 0.67, 0.8 and 0.9 are to be used for the prices for 2008, 2009 and 2010 respectively.

In 2011, Belarus, just as industrial customers in Russia, will have to pay the price Europe is charged.