18 Jan 2010 15:03

Belarus cuts overdue debt for Russian gas 61% in November

MINSK. Jan 18 (Interfax) - Belarus's overdue debt for Russian gas fell 61.6% to 128.2 billion Belarusian rubles (Br) ($46.1 million) in November, Belstat told Interfax.

Belarus had reduced the overdue debt for gas by 27.7% in October.

Including amounts owed by domestic consumers, the overdue debt totaled 296.3 billion Br ($106.5 million) as of December 1.

Belarus imported 15.4 billion cubic meters of natural gas in January-November 2009, 19.9% less than in the same period of 2008. It paid $151 per 1,000 cubic meters on average in the 11 months, 19.2% more. In other words, Belarus spent $2.325 billion for gas imports in January-November compared with $2.279 billion in the first 11 months of 2008.

Belarus had no overdue debt for gas as of January 1, 2009.

Belarus' overdue gas debt accumulated because Belarus paid for gas at an average annual rate of $150 per 1,000 cubic meters, while the actual price of the gas varied quarterly, from $213 per 1,000 cubic meters in the first quarter falling to $115 in the third quarter, in line with the decline in the oil price benchmarks used in the gas price formula.

Belarus has said it would extinguish the debt by the end of the year by continuing to pay for gas at the average annual rate in the fourth quarter and conducting a final settlement.

Belarusian imports in 2009 will total 18.3 billion cubic meters, according to Beltransgaz estimates, 13.27% less than in 2008, when Belarus imported 21.1 billion cubic meters.

The official exchange rate on January 18 was 2,842 Br/$1.