Russia pledges 30-40% discount on gas for Belarus in 2010

Russian natural gas prices will be 30-40% lower for Belarus than for EU states in 2010, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Monday.

"We are currently supplying gas at $122 per 1,000 cubic meters in the fourth quarter, taking into account a 30% discount available this year under a decision that [Russian energy giant] Gazprom took with its counterparties," Medvedev said.

The president explained that the discount was made possible by mechanisms used by the two countries, and by Russia's participation in the Belarusian gas transit system and a number of joint programs.

"Experts have calculated that over the entire period of trade in our natural gas, oil and certain other commodities with Belarus, the total volume of preferences granted to the Belarusian economy reached some $50 billion," Medvedev told Belarusian journalists.

He said a similar package of preferences to Ukraine ranged between $75 billion and $100 billion.

"We had problems with Ukrainian consumers due to political difficulties that the Ukrainian government is experiencing. There is nothing of this kind with Belarus. It just takes us quite a long time to discuss the terms, but we always reach final, reasonable and compromising agreements," the Russian leader said.

Asked whether he was worried that Russia could damage ties with CIS states over its policies, Medvedev said: "I am not afraid of anything. If I were afraid of such things, I would not be a president."

He said if Russia and its partners work in a civilized way, "we will enjoy the best, the warmest and the friendliest relations."

Medvedev said Russia could also consider building a second leg of the Yamal-Europe gas pipeline through Belarus if more gas is needed and contracts are available.

"I think the more possibilities there are for Russian gas supplies to Europe, the better it will be for both Europe and Russia," Medvedev said, also referring to the more expensive Nord Stream pipeline Russia is currently building with Germany to pump natural gas to Europe under the Baltic Sea.

BARVIKHA, November 23 (RIA Novosti)


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