November 30, 2016 / 8:01 AM / 3 years ago

Russia and Belarus close to solving gas price dispute - minister

MINSK (Reuters) - Russia and Belarus are close to solving a dispute over gas prices, Belarussian Energy Minister Vladimir Potupchik told reporters on Wednesday.

The long-term allies have been at odds since the start of the year over how much Minsk should be paying Russia’s Gazprom for gas supplies following a slump in global energy prices.

Potupchik said Minsk had sent Moscow new proposals on how to solve the row and that he expected officials from the two countries to hold talks this week.

“We are close to a resolution,” said Potupchik.

Minsk, which says a gas price set by Gazprom of $132 per 1,000 cubic meters is too high, has been paying less on delivery since the start of the year and Gazprom says it is owed $270 million for the first six months of 2016.

Since the start of July, in a move interpreted as an attempt by Russia to put pressure on Minsk, Russian oil pipeline monopoly Transneft has been pumping about 40 percent less oil to Belarus than in the second quarter of this year.

Belarus, which received 21 billion cubic metres of gas from Gazprom in 2015, has previously said it sees $73 per 1,000 cubic metres as a fair price for gas.

Reporting by Andrey Makhovsky; Writing by Andrew Osborn; Editing by Alexander Winning

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