Construction of Gazprom Center in Minsk formally suspended

The construction of a Gazprom office complex in Minsk was formally suspended on December 22, 2016, Mikalay Butrym, deputy head of the construction department at the Minsk City Executive Committee, told BelaPAN.

Construction work at the site was de facto halted in August last year. In December, a source familiar with the situation linked the suspension of construction to the latest gas price dispute between Belarus and Russia's gas supply monopolist Gazprom.

"They have dropped a hint that the money that we should pay to Russia for gas is the money that is spent on this construction project," said the source. "And if we stop paying, they will automatically stop funding the project."

The report was confirmed on Wednesday by another source, who said that Gazprom would restart the project only after Belarus settled its gas debt, estimated at more than $400 million at present.

However, reports have it that there may be another reason for the suspension of construction work. In particular, experts have found that the foundation is not deep enough to support the centerpiece of the complex, a 189-meter-tall office tower.

Gazprom's Belarusian subsidiary declined to comment on the situation on Wednesday.

Gazprom Center has been built in place of the Maskowski Bus Terminal, which was put into operation in August 1999 and demolished in 2014 to make room for the building.

It is expected to have a total floor space of about 250,000 square meters. Gazprom initially promised to complete the project before 2019.

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