Energy Commission's head rules out significant rise in gas prices

Head of the Russian Federal Energy Commission Georgy Kutovoy ruled out a rise in natural gas prices by more than 20 percent in 2003. He made this announcement at a press conference devoted to the 10th anniversary of the Energy Commission today. According to the official, at a meeting on December 11, the Cabinet did not set a deadline for approving Gazprom's investment program for 2003. However, the final decision on the volume of this investment program is to be approved before April 1, 2003, Kutovoy stated.

According to the head of the Federal Energy Commission, in the event natural prices are raised by 20 percent, Gazprom will not have enough of its own resources to implement the investment program, which was planned at 188bn rubles (about $5.9bn) in 2003. So the government will consider the possibility of attracting loans for the implementation of Gazprom's program instead of raising prices. According to earlier reports, Gazprom was asking for a 34.7 percent increase in natural gas prices on the domestic market in 2003.

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