19 May 2007 - 13:33
  • News Code: 104992

MINSK: A deal for Russia to acquire a stake in the Belarus pipeline network which carries Russian gas to Europe will not be signed on Friday as planned owing to continuing disagreements, officials said.

“Negotiations are continuing today,” Belarus government spokesman Alexander Timoshenko told AFP, adding that a new date for signature of the agreement would be announced only after the talks were completed.

 

The deal, under which Russian gas giant Gazprom was to acquire a 50-percent stake in the Belarus gas pipeline monopoly Beltransgaz, was hammered out shortly after midnight last New Year’s Eve amid a Russia-Belarus energy dispute that threatened to disrupt gas supplies to Europe.

 

The agreement was to have been signed on Friday and news of the last-minute snag came as a surprise.

 

Timoshenko said the unresolved disagreement between Gazprom and Belarus centred on one point in the accord, but declined to provide further details.

 

Belarus energy analyst Tatyana Manyenok said it appeared the snag was over gas transit fees for Belarus domestic customers. Gazprom confirmed the delay in the signing of the agreement. “The signing of the Beltransgaz buy-sell share agreement will not take place on May 18 but later,” Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov said.

 

“As you are aware, we observer an old tradition with our Belarus colleagues we agree on the very last details only on the 31st of the month,” he said, referring to the deal reached last New Year’s Eve.

 

PIN/AFP

News Code 104992

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