Parliamentary Commission to Probe Gazprom Deal

Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller (right) and Armenian Energy Minister Armen Movsisian sign a deal in Moscow giving Gazprom 100 percent ownership of Armenia's gas distribution network. Jan. 16, 2014.

YEREVAN (Arka)—Seventy-five members of the Armenian National Assembly voted Wednesday to set up an ad hoc parliamentary commission to look into the government’s recent agreements with Russia’s gas monopoly Gazprom.

Three lawmakers voted against and 30 others, mostly from the Prosperous Armenia Party, refrained from voting.

Prosperous Armenia Party secretary Naira Zohrabyan said the faction refrained from voting because of many contentious points in the bill.

Previously, the inquiry proposed by the opposition minority was rejected by the ruling Republican Party of Armenia and its junior partner Orinats Yerkir (Country of Law) earlier this month.

Now, the parliamentary majority has offered to look into the caloric value of Russian gas supplied to Armenian consumers during the timeframe the commission wishes to examine, to study how the government accumulated $300 million of debt to the Russian gas distribution company, and also to study alternative means of importing natural gas, as well as some other issues.

According to the bill, the deadline for the parliamentary commission to present the final report is November. Opposition factions disagreed with the deadline.

On Jan. 6, 2014, Armenia’s government ceded its 20 percent stake in Armenia’s national gas distribution company ArmRosGazprom (ARG) to Russia’s Gazprom for $156 million to repay half of the $300 million debt. The other half of the debt was written off by the Russian monopoly.

Under a new agreement with the Armenian government, Gazprom is to deliver 2.5 billion cubic meters of gas to Armenia annually.

ArmRosGazprom was established in December 1997. It deals with transportation, storage, distribution, and sale of natural gas in Armenia. On Feb. 25 ArmRosGzprom was officially renamed Gazprom Armenia.

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