Gazprom confirms 21bln cu m of gas to Belarus in 2006

MOSCOW, September 8 (RIA Novosti) - The head of Gazprom [RTS: GAZP] confirmed Friday that the Russian energy giant will ensure supplies of 21 billion cubic meters of natural gas to Belarus in 2006.

Gazprom is seeking a stake in Belarusian state pipeline company Beltransgaz, which owns pipelines leading to Europe - Gazprom's main customer. Gazprom supplies roughly one quarter of European gas needs.

Alexei Miller also discussed with Dmitry Kazakov, the Beltransgaz general director, natural gas cooperation in 2007 and the independent evaluation of the Belarusian gas transportation system.

After raising gas prices for several of its other ex-Soviet neighbors, Russian state-controlled gas monopoly Gazprom said it will also pursue a European price formula for Belarus as of 2007, and offered to partially compensate it for the price hikes if Beltransgaz agrees to sell the Russian energy giant its main gas routes.

The price of gas supplies to Belarus has not changed since 2004, and currently stands at $46.68 per 1,000 cubic meters.

Gazprom deputy board chairman Alexander Ryazanov said earlier the energy giant raised the price from the current $46.68 to $200 per 1,000 cubic meters in its latest draft agreements sent to Belarus for consideration, a move expected to tear a hole of around $2 billion in the Belarusian budget.