Gas row between Moscow, Minsk apparently resolved

17:52, June 24, 2010      

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Despite insistence from Minsk that no money has been received from Russian state gas monopoly Gazprom over gas transit to Europe via Belarussian territory, the gas row between Russia and Belarus has apparently been resolved as both sides claimed clearance of respective debts.

Belarussian state gas company Beltransgaz said its Russian counterpart Gazprom has not paid for gas transit to Europe via Belarus as of 11:30 a.m. Moscow time (0730 GMT) Thursday, Russian news agencies reported.

"As of now, the gas transit payment has not arrived," said a source from the country's pipeline system operator, who meanwhile did not rule out that payment from Gazprom might have not yet arrived.

Beltransgaz chief Vladimir Mayorov also confirmed not receiving the payment at a session of the Belarussian Energy Ministry crisis center in Minsk on Thursday.

Belarussian First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Semashko said his country will nonetheless stop gas transit to Europe if Gazprom pays less than 260 million U.S. dollars, and has given another probation of two hours, until 01:00 p.m. Moscow time (0900 GMT) for official confirmation of the payment.

However, according to Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov, Russian energy giant has paid 1.45 U.S. dollars per 1,000 cubic meters of gas transported for 100 km, or in total 228 million dollars.

"There are no problems that could hamper gas supplies or transit," he said, as "all necessary commands have been made" to resume gas supplies to Belarus.

Semashko regarded the 228-million-dollars as an advancement payment, which equals to 87 percent of the total transit fees Belarus has asked for. He also said it might take 8-10 hours to fully resume gas transits to the European Union.

In response to Belarussian requirement, Kupriyanov said Gazprom has sent documents to Minsk legitimizing higher transit fees.

"We have sent a large package of documents to Belarus to be signed in order to make their demands for higher transit fees legitimate," said the spokesman.

Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller earlier told President Dmitry Medvedev that Belarus has fully cleared its debt due, and in turn Gazprom's gas supplies to the country will resume in full.

Semashko said in Minsk Wednesday that 187 million U.S. dollars have been transferred to Russian gas giant Gazprom, fully paying its debt for gas. Kupriyanov, however, did not confirm Semashko's remarks as of Wednesday.

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