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Belarus, Gazprom to hold gas talks in Moscow on Thursday

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Officials from the Belarusian Energy Ministry and state-owned gas transit company Beltransgaz will negotiate 2008 natural gas prices with Russia's Gazprom in Moscow on Thursday.
MOSCOW, October 11 (RIA Novosti) - Officials from the Belarusian Energy Ministry and state-owned gas transit company Beltransgaz will negotiate 2008 natural gas prices with Russia's Gazprom in Moscow on Thursday.

"In the course of the talks, Belarus plans to raise the issue of the formula for the price of Russian gas to be supplied in 2008, and related issues," Beltransgaz spokesman Vladimir Chekov told RIA Novosti.

Minsk officials said earlier that the volume of Russian gas to be pumped to Belarus had already been tentatively coordinated.

Mikhail Mikhadyuk, Belarusian deputy energy minister, said on Wednesday that his country expected to coordinate gas prices for 2008 with Gazprom later this year. Under the 2007 contract, Belarus pays $100 per 1,000 cubic meters of gas.

The Russian gas monopoly will also have to hold this year gas price talks with Ukraine, which currently pays $130 per 1,000 cubic meters for gas pumped from and via Russia. In 2008, the price is expected to appreciate further to $143-$180.

Earlier this week, Gazprom and Ukraine agreed on a schedule for the repayment of Ukraine's outstanding debt for gas deliveries.

The three ex-Soviet Baltic nations may also face a gas price hike in 2008. Gazprom's Baltic gas market is fairly small - Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia buy some 5.5 billion cubic meters of gas annually. Poland, another EU member, buys over seven billion cubic meters, while Belarus receives more than 20 billion cubic meters a year.

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