TALLINN - The ever-so-entrepreneurial legion of shuttle traders that work the Russian border has begun using the price discrepancy in liquefied gas to their advantage.
The daily Postimees reported that traders have begun importing large amounts of liquefied gas from Russia for domestic use. The price of the gas is some seventy-five percent cheaper in Russia, the largest producer of natural gas in the world, than in Estonia.
The shuttlers, who have plied their trade for years in cigarettes, vodka and gasoline, as well as foodstuffs, use the standard red gas cylinders that were ubiquitous during the Soviet period to transport the gas.
One cylinder costs the equivalent of 80 kroons (5.1 euros) in Russia, while refilling the same thing in Estonia would cost 350 kroons. The legal limit that one person can bring across the border is two cylinders.
Gas traders say that the shuttle trade is having a negative effect on their sales, especially in the southern part of the country. "We aren't selling anything in areas near the border," said Sandor Tabo, manager of Reola Gaas. "What can you do if people are buying from Russia? There are people who make a living out of bringing everything across the border that can be sold for profit." He added that he was also worried about the quality and condition of the cylinders themselves.