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Belarus hopes to conclude a contract with the Russian Federation for gas deliveries by October-November
Belarus hopes to conclude a contract with the Russian Federation for gas deliveries by October-November, said Belarussian Vice Premier Vladimir Semashko. In his words, a joint Belarussian-Russian group on establishment of the fuel and energy balance of the two states until 2020 is working at the time. The Belarussian side believes, in Mr. Semashko's words, that Russian gas will be delivered to Belarus by several suppliers, including independent ones. The issue of the price at which gas will be delivered to the republic is under discussion, noted Mr. Semashko. "Gazprom wants to raise the price, but we believe this is illegal. Next year, the agreement on indirect taxes levied by destination country will become effective, and we proceed from the fact that $46.48 per thousand cubic meters is a commercial price, which will remain, but the VAT, which will be paid on Belarussian territory, should be deducted from it," said Mr. Semashko. At the same time, he continued, the Russian side proceeds from the assumption that domestic Russian prices for gas will grow 20% next year. "This is a subject for talks; the background for them is considerably better this year than in the previous years, and there is understanding of the positions," said Mr. Semashko. There is an agreement that Belarus's demands in regard to gas and energy carriers for next year will be fully satisfied by the Russian Federation. Mr. Semashko said in 2005 the volumes of Russian gas deliveries to Belarus will be raised to 19.5 billion cubic meters. This year, in Mr. Semashko's words, the volumes of Russian gas deliveries to Belarus will exceed 19 billion. He also said the country's need of "blue fuel" from Russia are constantly increasing, which is conditioned by the growth of the Belarussian economy, as well as gasification of a number of the country's regions. In Mr. Semashko's words, from 2001 to 2003, Russian gas deliveries to Belarus grew from 16.2 billion to 18.4 billion cubic meters. Meanwhile, as evident from statements of the Russian and Belarussian presidents after their August meeting in Sochi, Moscow and Minsk have not given up the idea to create a joint enterprise between Gazprom and Beltransgaz. "There is such a possibility, talks are underway," said Vladimir Putin. "If Beltransgaz and Gazprom agree to create a joint enterprise and if the conditions satisfy both Russia and Belarus, we will start delivering gas to Belarus at domestic Russian prices," said Mr. Putin. In turn, Alexander Lukashenko confirmed that the issue of gas production by Belarussian enterprises in Russia on common conditions is still discussed. "We are ready to consider the issue in the context of funding our processing and gas-transportation companies and give some of their shares to the benefit of companies' shares on Russian territory," said the Belarussian president. He also said that there are three proposals on the part of Russian companies on gas deliveries. "I think we will accept them," he said.
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