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    Russia may raise 2008 gas price for Belarus by 25% - 1

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    MINSK, October 19 (RIA Novosti) - The 2008 price of Russian natural gas for Belarus could be around $125 per 1,000 cubic meters, 25% more than the current rate, a deputy Russian industry and energy minister said on Friday.

    Ivan Matyorov said specific terms and conditions should be coordinated between the countries' energy companies before the end of the year.

    He also said that Belarus had asked for a substantial increase in coal shipments from Russia, adding that this would not however "in any way affect gas delivery volumes."

    Russian Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov also said on Friday that Russia is ready to consider Belarus's request regarding the increase of oil shipments.

    The Belarusian energy minister said on Tuesday that the country would receive 21.6 billion cubic meters of natural gas from Russia in 2008.

    Alexander Ozerets told Cabinet ministers that Belarus would receive 6.5 billion cubic meters in January-March, 4.55 billion cubic meters in the second quarter, 4.39 billion cubic meters in the third, and 6.18 billion cubic meters in the final quarter of 2008.

    He also said that the Russian natural gas monopoly Gazprom would supply 6.35 billion cubic meters in October-December 2007.

    Ozerets said Belarus's stored gas reserves would total 660 million cubic meters by the end of October.

    The minister said after talks in Moscow last week that Belarus would pay 67% of the average European natural gas price in 2008 as previously agreed, but did not give an exact figure.

    Gazprom delivers over 20 billion cubic meters of natural gas to Belarus annually. This year Belarus has imported Russian gas at a cost of $100 per 1,000 cubic meters. However, it paid only 55% of the set price in the first half of the year, until Gazprom's threats to cut supplies over arrears forced the country to agree to the full price.

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