Armenia is bracing for a roughly 18-percent hike in the price of natural gas imported from Russia. The unanswered question is what’s the domestic political cost for the Armenian government?
Beginning in July, ArmRusGazProm, a joint venture between the Armenian Ministry of Energy and the Russian companies Gazprom and Itera, will charge customers 156,000 drams (about $374) per 1,000 cubic meters (tcm) of gas, compared with the current price of 132,000 drams/tcm (roughly $316), the Public Services Regulatory Commission announced in early June. Electricity prices will increase by eight drams (approximately two cents) per kilowatt-hour.
The gas and utility price hikes followed an earlier Gazprom announcement that gas prices for European customers would fall by up to 10 percent to an average of $370-$380/tcm. The Commission’s decision means that Armenians could soon be paying more for gas than residents of Western Europe, marking a sudden reversal from previous years, when formerly Soviet republics could expect to get a big discount from the Kremlin. The Commission has not elaborated on its reasons for agreeing to the price hike.
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Marianna Grigoryan is a freelance reporter based in Yerevan and editor of MediaLab.am.