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Gazprom raises stake in Belarus pipeline operator

Russian energy giant Gazprom said on Wednesday it had raised its stake in Belarus’s natural gas pipeline operator Beltransgaz to 25%, in line with previously reached accords.

In mid-May 2007, Gazprom signed a deal to purchase a 50% stake in Beltransgaz for $2.5 billion. Gazprom will make equal payments in four stages from 2007 to 2010, acquiring a 12.5% stake in Beltransgaz at each stage, giving the Russian gas monopoly greater control over supplies to Central and Western European consumers. A spokesman for the Belarus State Property Committee said Gazprom had paid $625 million to raise its stake to one quarter.

Russia and Belarus had been unable to agree on the sale of Beltransgaz’ shares to Gazprom for several years due to disagreements over the value of the Belarusian pipeline operator. An agreement on the share sale was reached in late 2006. (