Energy and Natural Resources Minister Armen Movsisian reiterated on Monday that Russia has mostly reversed a recent surge in the price of its natural gas for Armenia because of Yerevan’s decision to join the Russian-led Customs Union.
Movsisian insisted that Armenia will now pay the Russian gas monopoly Gazprom $189 per thousand cubic meters of gas.
The gas tariff officially stood at $180 per thousand cubic meters until Gazprom raised it to $270 on April 1. The Armenian government scrambled to mitigate the price hike which hit hard a considerable part of the country’s population.
The gas price for Armenian households rose by only 18 percent in July, with the government promising to subsidize the cost of the imported gas by 30 percent. Movsisian and other officials said that Yerevan is hoping to secure Russian economic assistance for that purpose.
Speaking to RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am), Movsisian stood by his recent announcement that Armenia’s unexpected decision decision to join the customs union led Russia to stop levying export duties from its gas delivered to the South Caucasus state. As a result, the wholesale tariff fell by 30 percent, to $189 per thousand cubic meters, he said.
Asked whether cheaper gas justifies the Armenian foreign policy change, Movsisian said, “Definitely. Thirty percent is quite a large figure. So the decision was justified.”
“I believe that joining the Customs Union was right, especially for the energy sector,” added the minister.
The new gas price has still not been formalized with a new tariff agreement between Gazprom and Armenia’s government or national gas distribution company. Armenian opposition lawmakers have expressed concern about this ambiguity and challenged the government to explain it.
Movsisian indicated that a gas deal will be part of a forthcoming “roadmap” to Armenia’s accession to the customs union. A senior Russian official said late last month that the roadmap is likely to be approved by the union’s member states in December.
Gazprom's average gas price for Europe currently stands at roughly $375 per thousand cubic meters, down from an average $400 in the January-May 2013 period.