Wed, 14 Nov 2018
45
Washington

YEREVAN -- The Armenian government is in talks with Moscow and Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom on the possibility of gaining a cost cut for natural gas supplied to the South Caucasus nation and prices charged to retail customers.

Garegin Baghramian, Armenia's acting minister of energy and natural resources, told reporters on November 8 that 'negotiations are being conducted toward the reduction' of prices, without providing details.

He added that specifics will be disclosed after talks with the Russian Energy Ministry and Gazprom are completed 'to avoid the possibility of outside influence on the negotiations.'

Gazprom sells natural gas to its Armenia-based subsidiary at a price of $150 per thousand cubic meters of gas.

The Armenian subsidiary, which owns Armenia's gas distribution network, then sells it to consumers in the country for about $284 per thousand cubic meters, based on the current dollar exchange rate.

In the past, many in Armenian have said the $150 wholesale price at the border is irrelevant given that Gazprom's own subsidiary continues to charge retail prices to customers that are almost twice as high.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian reportedly discussed the price of natural gas supplied to Armenia during his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow in September.

At that time, Putin asserted that Yerevan receives Russian natural gas 'at the lowest prices Gazprom sells gas in the world -- $150 per 1,000 cubic meters.'

An Armenian parliament committee recently began discussing energy prices amid complaints from citizens about high costs faced by consumers.

In 2015, many Armenians took to the streets in mass protests against a hike in electricity prices after a Russian-owned company managing Armenia's power grid was granted a tariff rise by Armenian authorities.

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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