Russia to Offer Domestic Gas Price to Belarus by 2014

Belarus will start paying the same gas price as Russian consumers, benefitting from an integration discount, by 2014, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Friday after a meeting with Belarus’ President Alexander Lukashenko.

“This is an important question, which will regulate our relations with Belarus for years to come and will ensure a secure and unquestionable transit of our energy to consumers in Western Europe through the Belarusian territory,” Putin said.

Belarus, a member of the Union State of Russia and Belarus and a Customs Union between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, will pay $164 for 1,000 cubic meters of Russian gas in the first quarter of 2012 compared to an average gas price for Europeans of $400, Putin also said.

“This is a serious discount which will allow Belarus to save no less than $2 billion,” he noted.

Russian gas giant Gazprom will acquire 100 percent of Belarus’ Beltransgaz, in which it already owns a 50 percent stake, Putin said.

Russia’s current five-year gas agreement with Belarus expires on January 1. Markets have been following the talks, as previous gas disputes between Russia and transit countries have seriously hit energy supplies to Europe in the middle of winter.

Gazprom plans to provide 152 billion cubic meters of gas to the European market this year, some 20 percent of supplies running through Belarus’ territory.

Russia also agreed to restructure Belarus’ gas debts which arose from insufficient payments in 2011.

Russia will provide a $10 billion 15-year loan to Belarus to build a nuclear power plant, which is to be built by 2017, Putin also said.

“We have agreed and today corresponding documents will be signed to provide Belarus with credit for this purpose,” Putin said.

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