Energy and Natural Resources Minister Armen Movsisian predicted on Thursday that Russia’s Gazprom giant is likely to again avoid raising the price of its natural gas for Armenia this year.
The gas price rose by 14 percent in 2009 and by another 17 percent, to $180 per thousand cubic meters, in April 2010. Gazprom announced later in 2010 plans to gradually raise it further to “market-based” international levels in the coming years.
The Russian energy conglomerate currently sells gas to western and central European countries for over $300 per thousand cubic meters.
The Armenian government last year scrambled to prevent another price hike that would have hit a large part of the country’s population hard. President Serzh Sarkisian discussed the matter with his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev during a February 2011 visit to Moscow. Sarkisian announced afterwards that the gas tariff will remain unchanged at least until 2012.
Movsisian revealed that the government and Gazprom formalized that with a one-year agreement signed in August 2011. He said the Russian energy conglomerate has so far expressed no intention to raise the cost of its gas delivered to Armenia. He said he believes it will keep the price at the current level this year.
The Russian gas is used for generating about 40 percent of Armenia’s electricity and is also the main source of winter heating. In addition, an estimated one-third of cars, public buses and other vehicles in the country run on liquefied natural gas.