186,000 dwellings have had gas restored.
The Armenian Natural Monopolies Commission has
approved a 1-cent raise in the price of natural
At the request of the monopolist gas company
"HayRusGasArd" a Russian-Armenian JSC,
beginning March 1, the price of gas will go from
51 drams (about nine cents) to 59 drams (10 cents)
per cubic meter.
Large-scale consumers who buy more than 10,000
cubic meters per month will not be subject to
the price increase. And it is that stipulation
that disappointed the gas company as it slowly
works to restore natural gas service throughout
According to director of the company, Karen Karapetyan,
the gas provider entered the new year with a loss
of 10 billion drams (about $17.5 million). He
says individual subscribers account for less than
20 percent of customers, but says that the slight
increase will produce revenue for continue installations
will take at least four more years to return
gas service to Soviet-era levels.
Currently, some 186,000 sources use natural gas.
By 2008, the company hopes to have renovated pipes
and delivery systems to restore Armenia to its
Soviet-era reliance on natural gas, when it had
Last year the company imported about 1.2 billion
cubic meters of gas, 82 million cubic meters more
than the previous year.
Officials at "HayRusGasArd" say that
the tariffs could be reduced if Armenia consumes
at least 1.6 billion cubic meters a year.
While the company considers the price increase
insignificant, the consumers who use blue fuel
have calculated that under the new tariffs they
will have to pay about 2,000-3,000 drams ($4-5)
per month in winter.
Seda Arakelyan who has a three room apartment
in Yerevan says her family of five uses about
200 cubic meters of gas during cold weather, for
which she pays about 10,000 drams (about $18).
gas costs less than firewood or electricity.
"The natural gas lightens our family life,
as now we can cook, bath and heat using natural
gas. I agree that the change in price is not so
dramatic, but the Government should take into
account that the additional two or three thousand
drams people have to pay this year will affect
many families, including mine, especially in winter
time," Arakelyan says.
The Chairman of the Union of Consumers Rights
of Armenia Armen Poghosyan says that they have
already had many phone calls from citizens upset
over the coming increase.
The consumer rights group has appealed to the
commission to exempt socially vulnerable families
from the price increase.
Talk of a price increase started in October,
but were dismissed by Parliament speaker Arthur
Bagdasaryan as rumors. Bagdasaryan said the ruling
coalition would strongly oppose any increase.
No objection has been filed, however, as more
attention is focused on upcoming action that could
see the price of water increase by 200 percent.