Deputy Prime Minister Mher Grigorian on Monday did not rule out the possibility of an increase in the prices of Russian natural gas supplied to Armenian households and corporate consumers.
Armenia’s national gas distribution company owned by Russia’s Gazprom giant said last week that it may ask public utility regulators soon to allow it to raise its retail prices.
They have remained unchanged since Gazprom raised the wholesale gas price for Armenia from $150 to $165 per thousand cubic meters in January 2019. The Russian gas monopoly said last month that the tariff will not rise further before the end of 2020.
In this regard, Grigorian reiterated his earlier assurances that Armenian households will not pay more for gas at least until April 1. “As for a change of the price of gas supplied to our homes, we should also wait until April 1,” he told reporters. “We will have clearer ideas then.”
Grigorian insisted that the Armenian government and Gazprom have not reached a confidential deal on a price rise that would take effect later this year. But he noted at the same time that Gazprom’s Armenian subsidiary needs additional revenues to make capital investments in the country’s gas distribution network.
“Regarding investment plans, I won’t make secret of the fact that there are desires to make some investments because we have to bear in mind that it’s a matter of safety, efficiency and proper maintenance of the [gas] infrastructure,” he said.
Grigorian was also confident that a possible higher gas price would not reflect negatively on continued economic growth in Armenia.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the issue when they met in Yerevan in October. “We talked about a gas price for Armenia that will not break Armenia’s economic dynamics,” Pashinian said afterwards.