Russia's Gazprom Stops Natgas Deliveries to Bulgaria

The Bulgarian energy ministry said that Russia's Gazprom informed public gas supplier Bulgargaz that it will cease delivering natural gas to Bulgaria starting from Wednesday.

The move, which was notified to Bulgargaz on Tuesday, does not require imposing restrictions on gas consumption for the time being, the ministry said in a statement.

"Bulgargaz and the Bulgarian Energy Holding (BEH) carried out an analysis, which led to the conclusion that the new two-phase payment procedure proposed by the Russian side is not in line with the existing contract until the end of this year and poses significant risks for the Bulgarian side, including making payments without receiving any gas supplies from the Russian side," the ministry noted. It added that the Bulgarian side has completely fulfilled its obligations and has made all payments required under the contract in a timely manner, duly and in accordance with its clauses.

The government also said it is working with BEH, Bulgargaz and Bulgartransgaz on identifying alternative gas suppliers, without providing further details.

Bulgaria, which depends almost fully on Russian gas for its energy needs, has a supply contract with Gazprom which expires at the end of 2022.

At the beginning of April, however, Gazprom unilaterally demanded that payments by its clients be made in rubles. The decision followed a presidential decree issued by Putin in retaliation to sanctions imposed on Russia in the wake of the Ukraine invasion.

Last month, Bulgargaz board chairman Ivan Topchiyski told local media that the country is able to cover its energy consumption needs through alternative sources of natural gas once its current contract with Gazprom expires.

Bulgaria is looking at increasing the amounts of gas imported from Azerbaijan once the planned gas link with Greece becomes operational, which is expected to happen in September.

(SeeNews, April 27, 2022)

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