Belarus to pay off $726m gas debt to Gazprom

Arkady Dvorkovich. Photo: NTV

Belarus has agreed to pay Russian gas monopoly Gazprom over $720 million in arrears for gas supplied in 2016 and the first quarter of 2017. In return, Russia will supply 24 million of crude oil to Belarusian refineries  - 8 million tons more than initially announced, reports the Russian news agency TASS quoting Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich.

Just four days ago, Belarusian government did not recognize its debt to Gazprom. But things changed on April 3 when Belarus and Russian presidents Aliaksandr Lukashenka and Vladimir Putin met in St Petersburg and spent 3.5 hours one-on-one. As a result, Putin pledged to settle the oil and gas dispute within 10 days while Lukashenka said that Russia was ready to refinance the gas debt.

The statement by Arkady Dvorkovich also hints at that. "Some intergovernmental documents that deal with oil and gas will be adjusted. After they are initialed, Belarusian side will pay off the amount in arrears for gas supplies to Gazprom (in fact, Gazprom's daughter Beltransgaz) and we will resume oil supplies in the volume of 24 million tons," Russian deputy prime minister said.

Dvorkovich added that in 2018 and 2019 Gazprom will offer a discount on the price of gas for Belarus. It will be a matter of additional negotiations what Belarus will pay for gas from 2020 on.