The price of Russian natural gas for Belarus will be about $168 per 1000 cubic meters in the first three months of next year, Gazprom said in a press statement issued on Wednesday.
"Under the contract, the gas price for Belarus, calculated according to the [agreed] formula, will be $168 per 1000 cubic meters in the first quarter of 2010," the statement quoted Gazprom CEO Aleksei Miller as saying.
"This year’s average price is 11 percent lower, some $150," he added.
"Owing to the absence of export duty, the gas price for Belarus is considerably lower than for other buyers of Russian gas," Mr. Miller said. "The agreed period of transition to higher prices allows the Belarusian economy to adapt."
As for Gazprom’s price for next year, the parties have already agreed that it should be "as close as possible" to the price in 2009, Uladzimir Mayoraw, director general of Beltranshaz, Belarus’ gas supply company, told reporters earlier this month.
The price of Russian gas for Belarus is determined by a five-year contract signed between Gazprom and Beltranshaz in 2006, Russian Ambassador Aleksandr Surikov said last week.
Under the contract, the price should be 90 percent of the price for Europe minus the transit costs and customs duty, he noted, adding that he could not say what the price would be, as he did not know what the price for Europe would be after January 1.
However, he said, the price for Belarus should rise, as the factor for Belarus is to increase to 0.9 from 0.7 in 2009.
According to Mr. Surikov, the Belarusian government would like to retain the 0.7 factor. "I don’t know whether the parties will manage to agree on this, but decisions should be mutually beneficial," he noted.