"As Mr. Darulis (Energy Deputy Minister Arvydas Darulis) knows, we hold talks with Gazprom continuously. We sent them many letters indicating that the price of gas, in our view, should be more optimal – it should be reduced," Joachim Hockertz, Lietuvos Dujos' deputy CEO and director of commerce, told the reporters on Friday.
He said that a contract for gas supply in 2012 was signed with Gazprom, not with its subsidiary Gazprom Export.
However, Sigita Petrikonytė-Jurkūnienė, Lietuvos Dujos' spokeswoman, confirmed to BNS last week that the contract was signed with Gazprom Export.
"All letters that we have are from Gazprom. Mr. Darulis knows is perfectly well... We hold talks with the company which we buy gas from, not with somebody else," Hockertz added.
The deputy CEO said that Lietuvos Dujos had repeatedly asked Gazprom for a price cut. "We presented our arguments and analysis, which, in our opinion, should convince Gazprom to take steps concerning the gas price," he said.
When asked what price reduction it sought from Gazprom, Hockertz said: "By more than 15 percent."
According to unofficial sources, the contract with Lietuvos Dujos was signed by Alexander Medvedev, Gazprom's vice-president and CEO of Gazprom Export. The sources have told BNS that Gazprom Export will take over the contract once Russia's gas giant goes through internal reorganization.
Some sources say that changing the supplier even within the group is a difficult thing to do due to legal issues, because Lietuvos Dujos has signed a long-term agreement, effective until 2015, with Gazprom. On the other hand, even though Gazprom Export is a subsidiary of the group, it operates on different principles than Gazprom. Therefore, it is said that the mere fact that it is the CEO of Gazprom Export who is talking with Lithuania is a good sign.
According to media reports, at the start of this year, Gazprom's management transferred its functions of supplying gas to the former Soviet republics to its subsidiary, Gazprom Export.
Thursday, Energy Ministry, which holds a 17.7 percent stake in Lietuvos Dujos, asked the company's management to explain why they had not negotiated with Gazprom for lower gas prices for Lithuania.
The formula set in the long-term agreement between Lietuvos Dujos and Gazprom links natural gas price to global oil prices. Some sources say that Gazprom is pressing Lithuanian gas importers to sign new long-term agreements in order to ensure gas supplies for another 10-15 years and change the price formula.
Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius has said that Lithuania now pays 490 US dollars per 1,000 cubic meters of natural gas, while Estonia and Latvia pay around 11 percent and 20 percent less, respectively, and other European countries pay about 100 US dollars less.
The five companies that import Gazprom's gas to Lithuania are: Lietuvos Dujos, Dujotekana (via LT GasStream), the nitrogen fertilizer manufacturer Achema, Kauno Termofikacijos Elektrine (Kaunas Combined Heat and Power Plant) and Haupas. Lithuania consumes less than 3 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually.