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Yerevan Keeps Pressing For Ex-Soviet Common Energy Market


RUSSIA -- A general view of the Atamanskaya compressor station, part of Gazprom's Power Of Siberia project outside the far eastern town of Svobodny, in Amur region, November 29, 2019

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian renewed on Friday his calls for the creation of a single energy market that would lower the cost of Russian natural gas imported by Armenia and other members of the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU).

The gas price is currently significantly lower for consumers in Russia than other ex-Soviet states making up the trade bloc. Two of them, Armenia and Belarus, have said that this puts their manufactures reliant on gas in a disadvantaged position vis-à-vis their Russian competitors. They have pressed Moscow to agree to uniform EEU energy tariffs.

Pashinian insisted on this idea during a video conference with the presidents of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan held in May.

Russian President Vladimir Putin rejected it, implying that Yerevan and Minsk should agree first to even deeper economic integration with Moscow which would result in a “single budget and system of taxation” for all EEU member states. Armenian Deputy Prime Minister Mher Grigorian indicated afterwards that Yerevan is not prepared for such integration.

Pashinian again made a case for “the formation of common markets for oil, oil products and gas” on Friday when he spoke at a virtual meeting of the prime ministers of Russia and the four other EEU member states.

“We emphasize the need to look for a joint solution and final settlement of the issue of forming a common gas market,” he said.

Pashinian’s government tried unsuccessfully this spring to get Russia’s Gazprom monopoly to cut the price of Russian gas delivered to Armenia. It pointed to a collapse in global energy prices resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.

The gas prices for Armenian households and corporate consumers actually rose by an average of about 5 percent in July. Armenian utility regulators argued that they had remained unchanged since a Gazprom raised its wholesale price for Armenia by 10 percent in January 2019.

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