Gas row between Moscow, Minsk apparently resolved

MOSCOW, June 24 (Xinhua) -- Despite insistence from Minsk that no money has been received from Russian state gas monopoly Gazprom over gas transit to Europe via Belarussian territory, the gas row between Russia and Belarus has apparently been resolved as both sides claimed clearance of respective debts.

Belarussian state gas company Beltransgaz said its Russian counterpart Gazprom has not paid for gas transit to Europe via Belarus as of 11:30 a.m. Moscow time (0730 GMT) Thursday, Russian news agencies reported.

"As of now, the gas transit payment has not arrived," said a source from the country's pipeline system operator, who meanwhile did not rule out that payment from Gazprom might have not yet arrived.

However, according to Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov, the Russian energy giant has paid 1.45 U.S. dollars per 1,000 cubic meters of gas transported for 100 km, or in total 228 million dollars.

"There are no problems that could hamper gas supplies or transit," he said, as "all necessary commands have been made" to resume gas supplies to Belarus.

Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller earlier told President Dmitry Medvedev that Belarus has fully cleared its debt due, and in turn Gazprom's gas supplies to the country will resume in full.

Belarussian First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Semashko said in Minsk Wednesday that 187 million U.S. dollars have been transferred to Russian gas giant Gazprom, fully paying its debt for gas. Kupriyanov, however, did not confirm Semadhko's remarks as of Wednesday.

The spat between Moscow and Minsk started a few weeks ago when Gazprom asked its Belarussian counterpart Beltransgaz to pay its arrears for 2010, which amounted to some 200 million dollars. The brawl had been gradually escalating this week as Gazprom increasingly cut the blue fuel supply to Belarus.

Belarus has threatened to stop Russian gas transit to Europe should Gazprom not pay its transit fees. The amount it demanded was about 260 million dollars, which Miller believed was too high and did not comply with the contract.

Belarus is a transit country for part of Russian gas exports to Europe. A similar dispute between Moscow and Kiev early last year caused heating fuel shortage for some European countries in deep winter.


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