Gazprom: Gas flow to Belarus may be cut by 85 percent

\"Considering the price of gas that has already been supplied in June and the amount of the debt, which is $192 million,...

Gazprom may reduce its gas deliveries to Belarus by 85 percent if the country does not settle its nearly $200-million debt by June 21, Aleksei Miller, CEO of the Russian gas giant, said on the sidelines of an international economic forum in St.Petersburg on June 17, BelaPAN reports.

"Considering the price of gas that has already been supplied in June and the amount of the debt, which is $192 million, it has been determined that the cut will make 85 percent of the planned volume of gas deliveries to Belarus," RIA Novosti quoted Mr. Miller as saying.

"The remaining 15 percent will allow Belarus to keep its gas transport system operational until the accumulated debt is fully paid," Mr. Miller said.

Belarus has paid for gas imports at a price of $150 per 1000 cubic meters, ignoring Gazprom's demand that $169 should be paid for 1000 cubic meters this year.

Mr. Miller expressed hope that Belarus would pay off the debt before the deadline, noting that Gazprom had warned the country of possible gas delivery cuts on June 16.

Minsk explains that it has refused to pay the higher price for gas this year because Gazprom has failed to raise its prices for domestic customers.

However, Gazprom spokesman Kupriyanov said on Wednesday that the contract made no reference to changes in Russia's domestic gas prices. "If Belarusian colleagues intend to initiate talks on the subject, they can do so in the framework of appropriate inter-governmental institutions, but they should observe the effective contract in full," he was quoted as saying.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said at a meeting with Mr. Miller on June 15 that Belarus should settle the debt within five days.

“In accordance with the terms of the contract, we have all grounds to cut the amount of gas deliveries to Belarus in proportion to its debt to Gazprom,” Mr. Miller said.