Issues related to the formation of the natural gas price for consumers in Armenia were reportedly discussed during a meeting between President Serzh Sarkisian and Alexey Miller, chairman of Russia’s gas monopoly, Gazprom, in Yerevan on Tuesday.
According to information released by the press service of the Armenian leader, Sarkisian and Miller discussed issues related to the energy sphere, in particular, to the gas sphere, which, according to the president of Armenia, are “among the major agenda issues discussed during his periodical bilateral meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin.”
“Agreeing that Armenia’s membership in the Eurasian Economic Union, which is a common economic space, opens new prospects for enhancing mutually beneficial cooperation and economic competitiveness, including in the energy sector, the president of Armenia and the chairman of the Gazprom company in that context addressed the issue of the price formation during the delivery of natural gas to Armenia under an agreement signed between the governments of Armenia and Russia on the price formation order during natural gas deliveries, in particular, the issue of making the reduction of the gas price more available to consumers,” the statement said.
Gazprom, which provides the bulk of Armenia’s natural gas, already lowered its price by 9 percent, to $150 per thousand cubic meters, as recently as in April, which resulted in a 6-percent reduction of the retail price for households and small businesses in the country from July 1.
Speculation about the possibility of a further cut in the gas price began in September shortly after former Gazprom executive Karen Karapetian was appointed Armenia’s new prime minister.
During the first meeting of the new cabinet chaired by him Karapetian, in particular, told the Armenian ministries of energy and labor as well as state utility regulators to explore ways of making electricity and gas cheaper for low-income households and some businesses.
“This must be done at the expense of economic entities that provide such services, rather than the state budget,” Karapetian said in a clear reference to energy suppliers.
Robert Nazarian, the head of Armenia’s Public Services Regulatory Commission, likewise said that the authorities had no plans to subsidize domestic energy tariffs. “If there is a reduction in the gas price at the border, we will revise the [retail] tariffs,” he said.
Prime Minister Karapetian also received the visiting Gazprom chief in Yerevan today. The statement released by the government press office did not specifically refer to any discussion of the gas price. During the meeting the recently appointed Armenian prime minister reportedly praised Gazprom’s management for “the implementation of programs aimed at ensuring Armenia’s energy security.”
Incidentally, Armenia’s ambassador to Iran Artashes Tumanian told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun.am) last week that Yerevan plans to increase imports of natural gas from the Islamic Republic and will sign a relevant agreement with its southern neighbor soon. Tumanian insisted that Russia will not object to the planned Armenian-Iranian deal because it “does not run counter to anybody’s interests.”
Armenia currently imports up to 500 million cubic meters of Iranian gas annually through a pipeline built in 2008. By comparison, Russian gas supplies to the South Caucasus country total around 2 billion cubic meters.