Belarus Looks for Alternative to Gazprom

Belarus and Ukraine have actually confirmed the possibility of establishing some gas partnership bypassing Russia. Belarus made clear it is looking for gas suppliers that would be alternative to Gazprom, while UkrgazEnergo said it will probably sell around 7 billion cu meters of gas to the third party in 2007.

"We may negotiate about energy security of our country with whom we think necessary," Belarus' Prime Minister Sergey Sidorsky told the reporters past Friday when asked about the possible purchase of gas bypassing Russia.

A week ago, Ukrtransgaz reported it sealed a protocol with Beltransgaz to control the export flow of Russia's gas towards Europe. The protocol provides for delivering up to 7 billion cu meters from Ukraine to Belarus via the old pipeline. But the source of such additional amount was unknown.

On Friday however, UkrgazEnergo Board Chairman Igor Voronin officially announced that Swiss Rosukrenergo (RUE) will deliver 62 billion cu meters of gas to be sold in Ukraine in 2007. Of that amount, Ukraine needs 55 billion cu meters, and no contracts have been made for the remaining 7 billion so far.

Ukraine may sell gas to Belarus at $135/ths cu meters to $140/ths cu meters, sources with the government of Ukraine said some time earlier.

The alternative gas supplies could become a new argument in the gas talks of Belarus and Gazprom. Belarus gets the gas at $46.68/ths cu meters this year, but the price will go up to $200/ths cu meters, Gazprom announced in April.