( Naviny )- The price of natural gas for Belarus may be raised in the second quarter of 2008, said Aleksandr Surikov , the Russian ambassador to Belarus, BelaPAN said.
The price has to increase because of the worldwide rise in energy prices, but the increase would be within "reasonable limits," the ambassador told reporters in Minsk on February 1 before a joint session of Belarus' State Control Committee and Russia's Audit Chamber.
According to Mr. Surikov , under an earlier agreement, the gas price for Belarus may be raised by 10 percent during 2008. "The price will not rise in excess of this level," he added.
On January 1, 2008, natural gas for Belarus increased in price from $100 to $119 per 1000 cubic meters. It was said that the new price would be effective in at least the first quarter of the year.
An agreement on the price was reached during Vladimir Putin's visit to Minsk on December 14. The Russian president then said that the gas price for Belarus would not exceed the limits specified in a contract between Gazprom and Beltranshaz , Belarus' government-controlled oil pipeline company.
Under the five-year contract, signed in Moscow on December 31, 2006, Belarus paid $100 for 1000 cubic meters in 2007 compared with $46.68 in the previous two and a half years. The price was to gradually increase to the European market level by 2011. It was to be 67 percent of the level in 2008, 80 percent in 2009, 90 percent in 2010, and 100 percent in 2011.