Armenia in talks over ArmRosgazprom sale to Russia

By bne IntelliNews June 21, 2013

bne -

An Armenian official has confirmed that the government is in talks with Gazprom over a possible sale of the state's 20% stake in gas distribution company ArmRosgazprom. The move is part of ongoing negotiations between Yerevan and Moscow over a recent hike in gas prices.

Armenia's Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Armen Movsisyan told parliament on June 19 that no decision has yet been made and talks with the Russian energy giant are due to be completed by the end of 2013. A sale of the government's stake in ArmRosgazprom would have to be approved by the Armenian parliament, he added, according to PanArmenian.

The issue was discussed during Movsisyan's visit to Moscow on June 17. The official said Yerevan is looking to ensure a long-term supply of natural gas.

The government is currently struggling to deal with a price hike in Gazprom's gas exports to Armenia. The increase was introduced several months ago, but consumer gas prices have so far been kept artificially low.

The Armenian Public Services Regulatory Commission recently gave the go-ahead to increase tariffs for both gas and electricity, since some of Armenia's power stations are gas-fired. The decision was politically unpopular, and Armenian government officials say they are still hoping to agree on a subsidy with Russia.

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