Russian and Armenian officials are holding negotiations over a new agreement on the price of Russian natural gas delivered to Armenia, Deputy Prime Minister Mher Grigorian said on Wednesday.
Russia’s Gazprom giant raised the gas price by 10 percent, to $165 per thousand cubic meters, following similar talks concluded in late December. The figure was set for this year, meaning that the two sides need to negotiate a new supply contract for 2020 and possibly the following years. Reports in the Armenian press have claimed that Gazprom is planning another, shaper price hike for Armenia.
Grigorian gave few details of the ongoing Russian-Armenian talks, saying only that they are being conducted “in a constructive format.” “Before the end of this year we will have a final idea about their outcome,” he said during the Armenian government’s question-and-answer session in the parliament.
Grigorian assured an opposition lawmaker that a possible price rise would not be immediately felt by Armenian consumers. “I am sure that we will not have a situation where we have to organize a discussion and declare in December that the gas tariff will go up starting from January 1,” he said.
“Whatever agreement is reached it will not be subject to implementation the next day, the next month or even three months later. I don’t think that the tariff will be revised upwards during the winter months,” added the deputy premier.
The issue was on the agenda of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin held in Yerevan on Tuesday.
“They could not have bypassed the gas topic,” Pashinian’s spokesman, Vladimir Karapetian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “Naturally, it was discussed by the two leaders as a component of [Russian-Armenian] economic cooperation, but I think that the final, commercial decisions will be made by economic entities.”
Pashinian personally announced the increased wholesale price of Russian gas last December following a series of discussions with Putin. Despite that price increase the retail cost of gas supplied to Armenian households and corporate consumers has remained unchanged so far.