Serbia hopes for cheaper Russian natural gas

BELGRADE -- Minister of Energy Zorana Mihajloviĉ has said that the gas Serbia gets from Russia "could be cheaper" than the present price of USD 475 for 1,000 cubic meters.

Zorana Mihajloviĉ (Tanjug, file)
Zorana Mihajloviĉ (Tanjug, file)

Mihajloviĉ specified that "only the long-term gas agreement with Russia could result in ten percent cheaper gas".

"What I have been trying to say and explain all along is that precisely because of the good relations with the Russian Federation, as our partner when it comes to natural gas, oil and some other projects, I find it perfectly natural to discuss how to make the gas price better for Serbia," Mihajloviĉ told Tanjug.

Serbia currently pays USD 475 for 1,000 cubic metres, she said, adding she hoped there would be talks with Russian partners to make the price cheaper, pointing out that it was not only a matter of the gas price for the population, but also affected the competitiveness of the Serbian economy.

"Our good relations should be the foundation of the talks," she noted.

"If we compared the price of gas in Serbia to that in the region, we would see that only a few nearby countries have higher gas prices than Serbia, but we would also see that the gas price in Austria's free market is around USD 270 for 1,000 cubic metres," she pointed out.

Several factors influence the price of gas in Serbia, like the purchasing price, transit costs through Hungary, buying agent and the fact Serbia uses little quantities of it, she explained.

The minister is concerned that Srbijagas has not signed the 2013 gas supply contract, which Serbia needs. She stressed that the contract with the Russian partners should have already been prepared.

Srbijagas, a government owned company, is negotiating the contract on behalf of Serbia, she stated.

"That is its task. The ministry, that is the government, negotiated the long-term agreement with Russia, and we have already signed that ten year agreement," she said.

In an interview for the Blic daily, the state-run Srbijagas company director, Dušan Banatoviĉ, said that meetings would be held in Moscow by the end of this week to negotiate this year's price of the natural gas Serbia buys from Russia.

According to Bajatoviĉ, the average figure for this year should be USD 370 for 1,000 cubic meters.