Russian-Armenian negotiations on the new price of natural gas delivered to Armenia have entered “the final phase” and their results will be announced soon, Energy Minister Armen Movsisian said on Thursday.
Speaking after a weekly cabinet meeting in Yerevan, Movsisian refused to speculate on the new tariff that will be set by Russia’s Gazprom monopoly. “We will say it after we finish [the negotiations,]” he told reporters.
Movsisian also would not specify if an increase in the price of Russian gas is inevitable. “In any case, our gas will be the cheapest one,” he said without elaboration.
The minister told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) last month that the Armenian government still hopes to prevent a price hike. “We hope to have an agreement [with Gazprom] before the end of this year,” he said.
The Russian gas price has been a subject of intense media speculation in Armenia in recent months. That was fuelled by data from the Armenian customs service which called into question government assurances that Armenia continues to pay Gazprom $180 per thousand cubic meters of gas.
The customs service said in October that the country imported 304.6 million cubic meters of Russian gas worth $74.4 million in the third quarter of this year. This translates into a gas price of roughly $244 per thousand cubic meters. This led observers to suggest that the gas price was secretly raised in 2012.
Some of them alleged that the government sold its 20 percent stake in the domestic gas distribution network to Gazprom to ensure that Armenian consumers are unaffected by the price rise until the February 2013 presidential election. Movsisian and his deputies denied that.
Natural gas is used for generating roughly one-third of Armenia’s electricity. It is also the main source of winter heating in the country.