The Armenian and Russian governments are continuing to negotiate on the possibility of a new, lower price of Russian natural gas delivered to Armenia, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Levon Yolian said on Monday.
“Negotiations and other efforts in that direction are going on,” Yolian told journalists. “As soon as they are concluded we will inform our public with your help.”
“I think that very soon we will inform you about final solutions and agreements,” he said without elaborating.
Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian announced in January that Yerevan is seeking a lower cost of Russian gas in view of the sharp drop in international oil prices. He said afterwards that cheaper gas is “essential” for the competitiveness of Armenian manufacturers using it.
Gazprom, which supplies at least 80 percent of Armenia’s gas, lowered the price from almost $190 to $165 per thousand cubic meters about a year ago. It had previously cut the tariff in 2013 in return for Yerevan’s decision to join the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). At that time the Russian giant charged European countries an average of almost $350 per thousand cubic meters of its gas.
The subsequent collapse of oil prices, which also determine international gas tariffs, offset much of the Russian discount for Armenia. Gazprom’s tariff for Europe averaged $238 per thousand cubic meters in 2015 and is expected to fall below $200 this year.
Yolian was among senior Armenian official who accompanied President Serzh Sarkisian last week on a working visit to Moscow, suggesting that the issue was on the agenda of his talks with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. No agreements on the new gas tariff were announced as a result of those talks.
The existing tariff is valid until April 1, meaning that the two sides have to reach some agreement by that time. Yolian expressed confidence that the Russians will not raise it back to $190 per thousand cubic meters if the talks yield no deal.