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Russia will raise the price of natural gas to Belarus
Russia will raise the price of natural gas to Belarus from $119 to $128 per 1,000 cubic meters in the second half of this year, a Russian deputy economic development and trade minister said Friday.

"The price will be $128," Andrei Belousov said, adding that the issue had not been discussed at a meeting of the Union State Council of Ministers on Friday.

He said the price was in full compliance with the price formula the countries agreed in late 2006. "The price for Russian gas deliveries to Belarus will not go beyond the formula," Belousov said.

In December 2006, Russian energy giant Gazprom and Belarusian pipeline operator Beltransgaz signed a contract on gas transits in 2007-2011. The document envisioned the price of $100 per 1,000 cubic meters for 2007 and a formula for prices for 2008.

Gazprom wants to make the country gradually switch to EU pricing levels, which are way higher ($370 average price per 1,000 cu m).

Gazprom board chairman Dmitry Medvedev said last December that the price of Russian natural gas for Belarus could reach average European levels in 2011. "The gas price for Belarus is among the lowest of CIS states, but it is due to reach the average European level in 2011," said Medvedev, who won presidential elections a few months later.

In mid-May 2007, Gazprom signed a deal to purchase a 50% stake in Beltransgaz for $2.5 billion. Gazprom will make equal payments in four stages from 2007 to 2010, acquiring a 12.5% stake in Beltransgaz at each stage, giving the Russian gas monopoly greater control over supplies to Central and Western European consumers.


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