Belarus, Russia to continue talks on oil and gas dispute this week

Belarus and Russia will continue talks this week to discuss solutions to their oil and gas dispute, Energy Minister Uladzimir Patupchyk told reporters in Minsk on November 30.

The minister said that Minsk had already sent fresh proposals to Moscow. "The talks continue," he said.

Belarus unilaterally decided to pay for Russian gas at a price of $73 for 1,000 cubic meters this year, or roughly just half of what Russia insisted on. Moscow said that Belarus had run up a debt of almost $300 million as a result, and cut oil exports to Belarus by around 50 percent in the third quarter in a retaliatory measure.

Under a deal reached last month, Belarus was to repay the debt before October 20 in exchange for Russian subsidies that were expected to make gas cheaper for Belarusian consumers. In addition, Russia reportedly agreed to increase its oil supply to Belarus.

However, Belarus has not paid the debt so far as the deal appears to have stalled. // BelaPAN