Serbia's wholesale gas prices to rise by an average 10.4 pct

SARAJEVO Wed Jan 9, 2013 9:41am EST

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SARAJEVO Jan 9 (Reuters) - Serbian energy regulator AERS has approved an average 10.4 percent increase in wholesale gas prices for consumers supplied by the country's gas monopoly Srbijagas, its spokesman said on Wednesday.

The price would go up to 36.7 dinars ($0.42) per cubic meter, including transport costs, Dusan Dakovic told Reuters, adding that new tariffs for industrial consumers and residential consumers would take effect on Jan. 15 and Feb. 1, respectively.

Srbijagas, which sought a 25 percent hike in natural gas prices, has complained that current tariffs are economically unsustainable and hamper future investments.

But raising energy rates are a sensitive issue in the Balkan country where the government likes to keep a lid on prices to avoid social discontent.

Serbia, which imports almost all of its natural gas from Russia through a single pipeline through Hungary via Ukraine, is also looking to broaden its gas supply routes.

The effort includes participation in the South Stream pipeline project through a joint venture with Russia's Gazprom . South Stream should deliver Russian gas to Europe, bypassing Ukraine. (Reporting By Maja Zuvela; Editing by Michael Kahn and Mark Potter)

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