Gazprom called off Monday`s visit by its executives to Minsk for talks with the Beltranshaz gas pipeline operator, the press office of the Belarusian Council of Ministers told BelaPAN.
In an interview with the government`s news agency BelTA, Beltranshaz CEO Uladzimir Mayoraw explained that the two companies would continue "distance" talks. He said that Gazprom had sent a draft appendix to this year`s gas supply contract to Beltranshaz last week and the latter had sent its version of the document to the gas giant on June 27.
The two companies are expected to sign the document later this week, according to Mr. Mayoraw. When reached by BelaPAN, a Gazprom spokesperson refused to comment on the visit cancellation. While meeting with Alyaksandr Lukashenka on June 25, Deputy Prime Minister Uladzimir Syamashka said that Gazprom`s executives would arrive in Minsk for talks on June 28 and Gazprom Deputy CEO Valery Golubev would travel to Belarus on Wednesday.
"We’ll sign a document with him, which will reflect their recognition of the debt and specify a date for them to pay this money by," Mr. Syamashka said.
Mr. Syamashka reported to the Belarusian leader that he had had a telephone conversation with Gazprom CEO Aleksei Miller and Mr. Golubev, who he said acknowledged that Gazprom was short in its payments. "I have every ground to demand that they pay $32 million more," Mr. Syamashka said.
Belarus paid off its $187-million debt for Russian gas deliveries last week. Gazprom, for its part, paid Belarus $228 million in outstanding gas transit bills but the amount was $32 million short of what Minsk demands.