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MINSK, February 16. /TASS/. Belarus and Russia have agreed the protocol on oil and gas issues, Belarusian Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Semashko said Thursday.
"My colleague (Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady) Dvorkovich and I have agreed the protocol (on oil and gas issues - TASS). Hopefully it will come out next week," he said.
According to Semashko, another round of talks between the two countries focusing on oil and gas issues were held last Friday, February 10. "Dvorkovich and I made up and signed off on a protocol, which is currently under consideration at the highest level in Russia," he added.
As reported earlier Dvorkovich said on February 7 that Moscow still expects gas debt repayment for 2016 from Belarus. Earlier he said that Belarus' debt for Russian gas supplies had reached around $550 mln as of January 28.
Belarus and Russia have been negotiating a reduction in gas prices since early 2016. Minsk insisted on lowering the price of Russian natural gas from $132 to $73 per 1,000 cubic meters and demanded that Russia switch to equal netback pricing. In response to underpayment of around $300 mln for Russian gas supplies Moscow cut its tax-free oil supplies to Belarus by more than a third.
In end-2016, Belarus transferred an advance payment for Russian gas and expressed the hope that the volume of oil supplies would be restored. However, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said that Russia had returned the advance payment and insisted on full execution of the gas contract. At the same time, Dvorkovich did not rule out that the settlement of the gas dispute with Belarus could be resolved in court.