Sidorsky: Belarus is ready to agree to gas price increase that Russian consumers accept 18:25, 26/09/2006
Belarus is ready to agree to the increase in the price of natural gas that Russian consumers accept, Prime Minister Sergei Sidorsky told reporters in St. Petersburg on September 25 after he had attended an industrial forum called Russian Industrialist 2006.
According to the Belarusian premier, by the end of the year, Belarus and Russia seek to complete an appraisal of the assets of Belarus` Beltransgaz gas transportation company, agree on a joint enterprise involving Gazprom that would control the Beltransgaz gas pipeline network, and decide on a gas price for Belarus.
"Our Gazprom partners and Belarusian experts currently hold talks on an appraising company, which is to determine the Beltransgaz assets," Mr. Sidorsky said. "After this, we will get down to negotiations about the gas price."
Mr. Sidorsky noted that a preliminary agreement had been reached that if the joint enterprise was established, the gas price to be set for Belarus would be in line with the Treaty of the Formation of the Union State.
Earlier reports had it that the appraisal of the Beltransgaz assets had been assigned to the Netherlands` ABN Amro on the initiative of the Belarusian government.
Gazprom seeks to buy a 50-percent stake in Beltransgaz. It has eyed the stake in the gas distribution network since 2003, but the sides could not agree on the method of appraising for a long time.
Earlier this year, Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Semashko said that the Belarusian government was ready to sell a controlling stake to Gazprom before the end of the year provided Belarus took part in Russian gas production. "We are ready to sell 50 percent of the assets in exchange for getting assets of Russian gas producing companies, which would let us extract 12 billion cubic meters of gas," Mr. Semashko said this past May.