Russia and Belarus have signed a gas transit agreement that could help end disagreements between the ex-Soviet Republics that halted Europe-bound gas supplies flowing through Belarus last month.
Vladimir Mayorov, General Director of the Belarussian pipeline operator Beltransgaz, told reporters on Friday that it signed with Russian energy giant Gazprom a supplementary agreement to their gas transit contract, revising transit tariff.
He said Gazprom agreed to a $0.43 raise in transit fees for 2010 in line with Minsk's demands. Under the new terms, Russia's gas export monopoly will pay the Belarussian pipeline operator $1.88 for shipping 1,000 cubic meters of natural gas to a distance of 100 kilometers.
A potential threat to European gas supply and bilateral relations between Russia and Belarus was averted last Thursday, when both countries settled their payment dues.
Gazprom resumed supplies of natural gas to Belarus in full after receiving payment for outstanding bills, while Belarus received payment from Gazprom in transit fees for using its territory for delivering gas to Europe.
Belarus had threatened to cut transit of Russian gas if Moscow doesn't pay off the debt. And Lithuania was the first to suffer from the spill over.
The European Commission had expressed concern that the dispute could affect gas supplies to Europe.
Like Ukraine, Belarus remains heavily dependent on Russia to meet its energy needs, but only a less proportion of Russian oil and gas exports to Europe pass through that country.
Ukraine transits about 80 per cent of Russian gas exported to other European countries, while the rest flows through Belarusian pipelines.
Russia hiked the price of gas supplied to Belarus from $150 per 1,000 cubic meters of gas last year, to $169.20 in the first quarter of 2010 and $184.80 in the second. But Belarus continued to pay at $150.
Gazprom said at this rate it could owe at least $500 million by the end of the year.
by RTT Staff Writer