Serbia reaches agreement on gas supply with Russia

BELGRADE, Feb 3, 2000 -- (Reuters) Serbian Energy Minister Slobodan Tomovic and officials from Russia's Gazprom energy company reached agreement on the delivery of increased gas supplies during talks in Moscow on Wednesday, local media.

Tomovic discussed delivery of natural gas to Serbia and ways of paying for current deliveries, the official Tanjug news agency said.

It was not immediately clear what kind of an agreement had been reached in Moscow.

Tomovic also discussed energy delivery cooperation and the supply of equipment for the Yugoslav electricity system with Russian Energy Minister Viktor Kaluzhni.

The minister went on a two-day trip to Russia to discuss a barter deal for gas deliveries in 2000, Yugoslav media said on Wednesday.

Serbian Prime Minister Mirko Marjanovic struck a deal with Gazprom last September for supplies of gas needed to keep households warm and industries running through the winter after 11 weeks of NATO air strikes knocked out a third of Serbia's power grid and destroyed its two largest oil refineries.

But deliveries have been plagued by constant problems with payment for the gas and its transit through neighboring Hungary.

Serbian state television said last year Gazprom had agreed to reschedule Yugoslavia's previous gas debt, last estimated by a Serbian oil company official to be in the order of $260 million.

The West slapped a fuel embargo on Serbia during the NATO air campaign, which lasted from March 24 to June 10.