Russia will likely raise the price of its natural gas supplied to Armenia further next year, Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian confirmed on Friday.
A deputy chairman of Gazprom, Andrei Kruglov, was reported to say earlier this month that the Russian energy conglomerate is determined to bring its gas tariffs for Armenia, Moldova and Belarus up to “market-based” international levels in the coming years. Kruglov stressed the fact that Gazprom currently sells gas to western and central European countries for $308 per thousand cubic meters.
The cost of Russian gas for Armenia rose by 14 percent last year and by another 17 percent, to $180 per thousand cubic meters, last April. That led state regulators in Yerevan to approve corresponding increases in domestic gas prices sought by the national gas distribution company, ArmRosGazprom (ARG). The latter is mostly owned by Gazprom.
“Naturally, this issue was discussed during the Russian Federation president’s [August] visit to Armenia,” Sarkisian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “We always keep this issue at the center of our attention.”
Speaking during the opening of a new veterinary laboratory in Yerevan, the Armenian premier said ARG and Gazprom are holding “consultations” over the scale of the next price rise. “The management of ArmRosGazprom has received appropriate instructions to continue consultations with their Russian partners,” he said. “I think that within several months the ArmRosGazprom management will give you clear information on the results of those consultations.”
An ARG spokeswoman, Shushan Sardarian, confirmed that the gas operator, which became this year Armenia’s largest corporate taxpayer, is discussing the issue with its Russian parent company. But she declined to give any details.
Russia has remained Armenia’s principal gas supplier even after the South Caucasus country began importing gas from neighboring Iran in May last year. The volume of Iranian gas deliveries, very modest at present, is due to grow significant in the next few years. It is expected that Iranian gas will be mainly used for generating electricity that will be exported to the Islamic Republic.