Belarus hopeful cheap gas will continue

Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko has announced that Russia’s energy giant Gazprom has agreed it could reduce the price of gas for his country by two to three times next year.

At a meeting of major gas-exporting countries in Moscow on Tuesday, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said, “The era of cheap gas is over.” The Belarusian President, however, said he hopes that will not apply to his country.

“Gas prices for Belarus will fall,” Aleksandr Lukashenko announced on Wednesday.

“They will fall significantly –two or three times – and will be acceptable to us on the whole,” the president said, without quoting a specific price.

Belarus paid $119.53 for 1,000 cubic meters of Russian natural gas in the first half of 2008, before Russia increased the price to $127.9 in the second half of the year.

So far, the Kremlin has only confirmed that an agreement has been reached on the sale of gas for next year, but it has refrained from naming a specific price. Gazprom says it hopes to meet with Belarusian representatives before the end of the year to discuss the issue.

President Lukashenko and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev agreed on gas payments and supplies at a meeting in Moscow on Monday.