Belarus to Pay $128 for Gas

Russia will sell gas to Belarus at $128 per 1,000 cubic meters in the second quarter of 2008, up from $119 in the first quarter, news agencies quoted an Economic Development and Trade Ministry official as saying Friday.

Deputy Economic Development and Trade Minister Andrei Belousov told reporters in Minsk that the price of natural gas would be calculated according to the same formula the two countries were using in the first quarter.

Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov said earlier Friday that Russia was not going to review the formula anytime soon.

"The contracts were signed in December 2006. All the issues arising should be solved according to the contracts," Zubkov said after attending a Russia-Belarus government meeting in Minsk.

According to the contracts, the price for Russian gas to Belarus is set at 67 percent of the average price of gas to Europe in 2008. The contracts also stipulate that the price is supposed to increase to 80 percent of the European price in 2009 and to 100 percent in 2011.

Moscow raised gas prices for Belarus by $19 per 1,000 cubic meters starting this year, from $100 in 2007, although government sources in Minsk have said Gazprom was seeking an increase of up to 60 percent. Gazprom traditionally charged Minsk the lowest price of its foreign customers, and any signs of Gazprom's intention to raise prices were severely opposed by Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko.