Russian gas suppliers came up with new, tougher contract terms for Belarus. As the Belarusian Energy Ministry reported, according to Gazprom, Itera and a number of other Russian companies' demands, they will no longer accept deferred payments for the consumed gas, while in some cases even an advance payment of 30 percent will have to be made. Additionally, all payments will need to be made in cash only.
In early February this year Belarus' foreign debt for energy resources imported from Russia was $226m. It was this debt that moved Belarus' permanent gas suppliers (Gazprom and Itera in the first place) to toughen contract terms, according to the republic's Energy Ministry. In particular, the Gazprom management refused emphatically to accept Belarusian barter and will only accept money transfers beginning February 2003. Itera, in its turn, said in March 2003 it will demand a 30 percent advance payment for its gas supplies, and all Russian gas companies stressed the impossibility of deferring payments as it often happened before.
The Belarusian Energy Ministry pointed out if Russian gas suppliers lived up to their promises and came up with tougher payment requirements, last year's situation with stopped energy resources supplies would be unavoidable owing to delays in payments.