By Shakeh Avoyan
The vital supplies of Russian natural gas to Armenia appeared to continue unchanged on Friday as the February 1 deadline set by Russia’s ITERA exporter for the repayment of Yerevan’s debts expired.
“As far as the gas delivered are concerned, no sanctions have been applied [by the Russian company],” Energy Minister Armen Movsisian told RFE/RL.
“The required volume of gas is being supplied as planned,” he said.
ITERA warned earlier this week that it will drastically cut gas exports to Armenia from February 1 unless its government settles its outstanding debts. It claimed that the Armenian side failed to honor an agreement obligating it to repay a $6 million debt for last year’s deliveries. ITERA, which is controlled by the Russian gas giant Gazprom, puts the total amount of the debt at $35 million.
But according to Movsisian, Armenia owes the Russians only $8.7 million for past deliveries and plans to fully repay the debt within the next six months. He also said ITERA claims that Armenia incurred $3.85 million in additional debts this month “do not correspond to reality,” insisting that the government and the ArmRosGazprom distributor have paid for the January imports in full.
The minister also denied that he has received any written warnings from ITERA as was claimed by its spokesman on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, sources said the ArmRosGazprom chairman, Karen Karapetian, was in Moscow on Friday, meeting with senior ITERA and Gazprom executives. ArmRosGazprom itself is 55 percent owned by Gazprom and ITERA and is under mounting pressure to toughen enforcement of bills from its Armenian consumers.