24 Dec 2010 17:18

Gazprom to reduce gas price for Latvia, Estonia if gas takeup is at 2007 level

KALININGRAD. Dec 24 (Interfax) - Gazprom will discount the price of gas for Latvia and Estonia if those countries take up at least as much gas as in 2007, Gazprom Deputy CEO Valery Golubev told journalists.

The price will be calculated based on oil product prices with a nine-month lag. "That issue has been entirely resolved. The same decision was taken for Estonia," he said.

The discount will be smaller if those countries take less gas, he said.

No such arrangement has been agreed with Lithuania so far. "To a significant extent, that is because several companies in Lithuania get gas from us, not just one," he said.

Golubev expressed wariness over the proposed reform of the Lithuanian gas industry to bring it into compliance with the EU's third energy package.

"We don't understand why Lithuania wants to implement the third energy package this way, since Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia are an isolated market," he said.

"The 49th article of the third energy package provides for deferring [its application] pending creation of open market conditions. We are worried that nothing good will come out of it for Lithuania, because Gazprom will be delivering the gas," he said.

Asked whether the EU was negotiating with Gazprom on Lithuania's behalf, Golubev said: "The EU is not holding talks with us."

"Moreover, there is an intergovernmental agreement on protection of investments, and international consultants have notified the Lithuanian authorities that our interests have been infringed," he said, referring to the two shareholders in Lithuanian gas concern Lietuvos dujos: German E.ON Ruhrgas and Gazprom.

"That agreement gives us the right to proceed as we are proceeding," he said.

It was reported earlier that the two main shareholders in Lietuvos dujos - Gazprom (37.1%) and E.ON Ruhrgas (38.9%) - oppose Lithuania's plan to break up the gas import and transportation company.

In a joint statement, Gazprom and E.ON Ruhrgas demanded "full compliance with all provisions of the agreement on the basis of which the companies became shareholders in Lietuvos dujos."

On May 27 the Lithuanian government approved the concept for a new law on natural gas that will separate the gas transportation business and the trunk pipeline business. "Despite the fact that we own 76% of shares in Lietuvos dujos, the right to make decisions concerning core operations will be transferred to the state, which owns just 17.7% of shares," the Gazprom/E.ON Ruhrgas statement says.

The companies note that the three-party agreement between the Lithuanian government, E.ON Ruhrgas and Gazprom, and the directive from the European Parliament and the European Council, stipulates consultations with shareholders before approving any decisions affecting one of the companies. "We found out about the government's intention from the media on March 22, 2010. We proposed consultations on the issue in a letter to the government on March 31, 2010. But there was no response to our demands or the opinion of independent experts," the statement says.