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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Gas Price Decision Postponed

President Vladimir Putin on Thursday gave his government two weeks to put forward a plan on providing the nation with enough energy amid growing fears of a gas crunch -- delaying a politically sensitive decision on hiking prices.

"We cannot make the entire economy dependent on one energy supply: natural gas. This is unacceptable even from the point of view of national security," Putin said as he opened a meeting on the nation's energy balance at his Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow. "Unfortunately, we still have no clear view of what is the optimal balance of energy resources."

Russia's deficit of energy supplies is putting the brakes on economic growth and blocking the government's drive to double gross domestic product, he said. "It has become absolutely clear that a natural obstacle to this task is the lack of energy capacity, a deficit which we are already coming across now," he said.

Energy consumption has risen 2 percent on average over the past five years, while over the last nine months it has jumped 4.8 percent, he noted.

Unified Energy Systems CEO Anatoly Chubais has called for the government nearly to double gas prices for industrial users to $80 per 1,000 cubic meters as a way of heading off a gas crunch.

Thursday's meeting was to decide on whether to hike the gas price. Industry and Energy Minister Viktor Khristenko said Putin had given the government a two-week stay to work out ways to diversify dependency on gas.