Richard Giragossian: Armenian government optimistic about lower Russian natural gas tariffs

09:59 • 07.09.18



Although the upcoming Russian-Armenian summit will be the third top-level official meeting since Nikol Pashinyan's election to the post of Armenia's prime minister, it is going to be  be both different, and more significant, according to Richard Giragossian, the director of the Regional Studies Center.


“Unlike the two previous meetings, which were brief and part of much larger summits, this is to be a bilateral summit meeting.  Interesting, the timing is also different, as this third meeting also sets a new unofficial timetable for Armenian-Russian meetings, as the first two took place in May and July, and with this September meeting, it now seems like a tradition of meeting in Moscow every other month,” he said in an interview with Tert.am.


The analyst added that he also expects the talks to address less ceremonial and more substantive issues, including points of conflict and contention.


“These points of contention not only reflect the already deep crisis in relations between Armenia and Russia, especially over Russian arms sales to Azerbaijan, but also stem from more recent developments, such as the arrest and subsequent release of a long-time Russian partner in Yerevan, former President Robert Kocharian, and the handling of the case involving the head of the Russian-led security bloc the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), whose Secretary General, Armenian Yuri Khachaturov, is deeply involved as a target of an official criminal investigation now underway in Armenia.”

 

As another important key issue, Giragossian highlighted also the Armenian government’s expectations for lower Russian natural.  “For the Armenian premier, there is also a goal of this summit, as the Pashinyan government seems overly optimistic regarding the price of gas imports from Russia, a critical economic issue as winter approaches.  More specifically, in a rather surprising announcement on 29 August, the Armenian government promised to secure a discount in the price for natural gas supplied by Russia’s Gazprom energy firm.  According to Energy Minister Artur Grigorian, Armenia will seek a discount during negotiations planned for November with Gazprom and seek to lower the $150 price Armenia pays per thousand cubic meters (tcm) of imported Russian gas.  That price already reflects a Russian subsidy for Armenian gas imports and is significantly lower than the $230 per tcm that Russia charges European and other foreign consumers. 


“The surprise stems from expectations that Russia may actually seek a slight price increase for its gas exports to Armenia, reflecting a degree of tension between Moscow and the new Armenian government in Yerevan.  Armenia currently imports Russian gas that account for about 80 percent of its gas needs, with another 20 percent of demand met by gas imports through the natural gas pipeline from Iran,” he added.   


 

Hripsime Hovhannisyan





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