By Anatoly Medetsky
* Gazprom is planning to raise prices for most European customers by an average of 14 percent next year, but the hike will be much steeper for the Baltic countries, national newspapers reported Monday.
Europe may pay an average $293 for 1,000 cubic meters of gas next year, up from $257 this year, Vedomosti reported, citing company documents prepared for a board meeting Wednesday.
The hike simply reflects the growth of world oil prices, which serve as the basis to determine the gas price, said Jonathan Stern, director of gas research at Oxford Institute for Energy Studies.
"What Gazprom must have calculated is that oil prices have already moved," he said by telephone Monday. "Gazprom doesn't decide. It's not Gazprom's guess, it's everybody's guess."
Price increases for the three Baltic countries will probably vary from 30 percent to 54 percent, Kommersant reported. Gazprom will hike their prices to the European average, Gazprom spokesman Denis Ignatyev confirmed by e-mail.
Estonia could pay as much as $260 per 1,000 cubic meters of gas, a 36 percent rise, Raul Kotov, head of sales for Eesti Gaas, told Kommersant.
Latvia is negotiating to pay about $220, a 54 percent increase on this year, Latvijas Gaze spokesman Vincents Makaris said, the newspaper reported.