By Helen Marshall
Gazprom has agreed to supply 21bcm of gas to Belarus in 2006, under an agreement with Beltransgaz, the state pipeline firm that Gazprom is pursuing a stake in. Meanwhile, in Russia, the country's economics minister has reportedly confirmed that the Russian government has no plans to privatize the gas titan.
As well as agreeing on the supply of gas to Belarus, Gazprom and Beltransgaz also discussed cooperation in the market-based gas sector in 2007. The agreement was reached during a working meeting between Alexey Miller, chairman of Gazprom's management committee, and Dmitry Kazakov, chairman of Beltransgaz.
In other news, Russia's economics minister has reportedly announced that Gazprom is to remain under state control. German Gref, Russia's economic development and trade minister told a news conference that "any alienation of government-owned stakes in Gazprom will certainly not take place," and that "Gazprom will not be privatized, and the state will preserve control over a number of infrastructure companies," as quoted by Itar-Tass and RIA Novosti, respectively.
Mr Gref also reportedly told those gathered at the news conference that, although there are no plans to privatize other key infrastructure companies, a strategic privatization policy would continue in other economic sectors, such at housing and utilities.