Russian gas supplies to Belarus to increase to 22 bln cu m by 2010

MINSK, October 4 (Itar-Tass) - Russia will increase natural gas supplies to Belarus to 22 billion cubic meters by the year 2010, Belarussian Energy Minister Alexander Ozerets said at an Energy and Environmental Congress.

The increase in supplies, envisioned by the approved fuel and energy balance of the Union State of Belarus and Russia, will make up 109.5 percent compared with 2005. The volume of transit Russian gas through Belarus will grow from 40.8 billion cubic meters /as of the year 2005/ to 61.1 billion cubic meters, Ozerets said.

"The reason behind the increase in transit is the need to boost gas supplies for the Kaliningrad thermal power plant; and gas transit to Ukraine will also increase after the Yamal-Europe trunk pipeline reaches its rated capacity," the minister said.

The prospects for the development of Belarus' gas transportation system are linked with the construction of new compressor plants for the Yamal-Europe trunk pipeline and the development of the system of underground gas storages.

Ozerets underlined the significance of the signing of a long-term agreement with Russia on cooperation in the gas sphere.

"A task has been set to fully discharge Belarus' rescheduled debt for the gas supplied until the year 2003," he said.

The energy minister noted that another task is to ensure Belarus' energy security, as the country imports 80 percent of fuels. To this end, it is planned to increase the use of local and non-traditional kinds of fuel by 22.7 percent.

The government will allocate 2.5 billion dollars for the modernization and development of Belarus' energy system facilities; while 1.8 billion dollars are earmarked for energy conservation in various branches of the national economy.