Gazprom of Russia and Beltransgaz of Belarus to form JV

Russian gas monopoly Gazprom and Belarusian pipeline monopoly Beltransgaz may form a joint venture by the end of the year, according to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Putin made the prediction at the recent CIS leaders summit in Minsk.

Each party would hold a 50% stake and co-operate in the transportation, import and distribution of Russian gas in Belarus and other parts of Europe.

Analysts say the agreement could soften Russia's demand for higher gas prices from Belarus, avoiding a possible stand-off between the two countries.