YEREVAN, October 24. / ARKA /. Levon Zurabyan, head of the parliamentary faction of the oppositional Armenian National Congress (HAK), announced during today’s parliament Q&A session that the government had sold its 20 percent share in Armenia’s Russian-controlled ArmRosGazprom (ARG) natural gas operator to Russian Gazprom, the owner of 80 percent in the facility.
Zurabyan claimed the deal was cut to leave unchanged the current price of gas for households until March 2013.
Media reports in Armenia in early July said Russia may raise the price of gas supplied to Armenia across Georgia to $280 per one thousand cubic meters this year and further to $320 from next January. Armenia currently pays $180 per one thousand cubic meters.
“We have information that Russia had long ago raised the price for Armenia to $240 per one thousand cubic meters, but we still pay $180 for it when it reaches Armenia’s border. To cover the difference, the sides agreed that Armenia would sell its 20% stake in ARG to Gazprom,” he said adding also that the government received for its stake 63 billion drams.
According to Mr. Zurabyan, the authorities are tight-lipped about this deal in order to avoid turmoil ahead next presidential election, slated for next February. Energy and natural resources minister Armen Movsisyan denied the allegation saying that “at the moment no such decision was made.”
“We have nothing to hide, but the negotiations proceed behind closed doors, because Russia sells gas to other CIS countries as well. As long as negotiations continue, I think, it is inappropriate to comment on this question,” he said.
The minister also denied any connection between the "gas issue" and the upcoming presidential election in Armenia.
“Russia sells gas, and the price it sets, has nothing to do with our election processes,” Movsisyan said.
President Serzh Sargsyan, who was in Russia on August 7 and 8, said after meeting there with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, that the two countries had reached mutual understanding on Russia’s natural gas imported in Armenia. The president said that it is necessary to take into account the real market price divided or multiplied by the necessity of providing Armenia with natural gas at prices which are in tune with regional prices with maintaining Armenian economy’s effectiveness.
ArmRosgasprom CJSC, established in 1997, enjoys the sole right for importing and distributing Russian natural gas in Armenia. Officially, Russia’s Gazprom OJSC holds n 80% of the company’s shares, and the remaining shares belong to Armenian government. Russia conveys its gas to Armenia through Georgia’s territory. -0-