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Armenia Wants Russia To Freeze Gas Price

Armenia says it is seeking to freeze the price it pays for Russian natural gas, a key source of electricity in the economically struggling South Caucasus nation.

Robert Nazarian, the head of the Public Services Regulatory Commission (PSRC), told lawmakers on February 25 that "fluctuations" in the exchange rate of the dram currency are a major factor in determining energy prices for Armenian consumers.

The dram lost more than 15 percent of its value against the U.S. dollar and other major currencies late last year.

Nazarian said Armenia "is conducting negotiations with Russia for the natural gas price not to be raised because of the dram-dollar fluctuations.”

The PSRC raised the electricity price by 27 percent in July 2013, pointing to the increasing cost of importing Russian gas, which generates more than one-third of Armenia’s electricity.

The price increased by 10 percent in July 2014 as the PSRC cited the need to end mounting financial losses incurred by the Electricity Networks of Armenia, a Russian-owned national power utility.

In December 2013, Armenia sold its remaining 20 percent share in the domestic gas distribution network to Russian state-controlled gas company Gazprom.