Belarus Demands Russian Gazprom Review Treaty on Gas Supply

Text of report by Interfax-Ukraine news agency

Minsk, 1 August: Belarus insists on signing an additional agreement to the treaty on gas price due to a substantial change in circumstances, First Deputy Prime Minister Uladzimir Syamashka said at a press conference in Minsk on Friday.

"Signing that agreement [on 31 December 2006], we were guided by a Russian forecast of the oil price change, which envisaged its decrease. As both Russian and Belarusian civil codes contain articles saying that a treaty can be changed or annulled due to a substantial change in circumstances, we propose to hold negotiations and either annul the treaty, which is unacceptable, or amend it to arrive at a civilized decision [on the gas price for Belarus]," Syamashka said.

He also said that now Russia and Belarus were "at the stage of negotiations".

Syamashka also said that "in early 2008, the gas price for Belarus was 119 dollars per 1,000 cu.m., and now we have moved on to the price of 127.9 dollars, which is effective until the end of the year".

He said that, judging by the agreement signed and by the gas price formula it envisages, Belarus could be on the threshold of a sharp price increase, as the world prices of energy resources are growing. He drew attention to the fact that the new Russian cabinet is likely to postpone the transfer to the principle of equal profitability of prices from sales at all markets from 1 January 2011 to 2014-15. Syamashka said that Russia believes that "following the previously outlined strategy, Russia will have to double the prices of energy resources in the early hours of 1 January 2011, which will be a catastrophe for it".

He said that "Russia will slow down the trajectory (the movement to the equal profitability of prices - Interfax-Ukraine) and we will have an argument then: why is it possible to considerably increase the price for us, a small country"?

Originally published by Interfax-Ukraine news agency, Kiev, in Russian 0929 1 Aug 08.



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