Compensation that the state pays to business consumers due to high electricity prices can be extended. This became clear from the words of the Minister of Energy Alexander Nikolov on Nova TV. He firmly promised that these possibilities would be considered. He added that talks with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Asen Vassilev are already planned. At the same time, consultations with employers are planned to clarify exactly what their difficulties are and whether it will be more useful for them to extend the existing compensatory measures or change them.
According to Nikolov, the extension and amount of these compensations must be taken into account, including the development of geopolitical conflict following the war in Ukraine, as well as what will follow. He expressed regret that very close to us are real fighting, which affects the prices of electricity and natural gas. It is also not yet clear how long the war in Ukraine will last, which makes it unclear how long the conflict will affect energy prices. In addition, he noted that the forecast for the next 2 weeks is the weather to be cold, which will automatically increase energy consumption, which will result in an increase in its price. said Nikolov.
In connection with the expected increase in natural gas prices from April 1, the Minister of Energy noted that all components currently observed in the gas market, especially the war in Ukraine, clearly show what are the trends in the price of natural gas. He also praised the work of Bulgargaz and the new management of the company, which has managed to keep the price up to only 3.5% from the next month, against the background of all these factors, which suggest higher prices.
Nikolov also explained that there is no reason to worry about gas supplies to Bulgaria. Including from our main source - Russia. Regarding the expiring contract with Gazprom at the end of this year, the energy minister said that all possible scenarios were being worked on, all alternative supply routes were being explored, as well as possible suppliers. "There are enough opportunities to avoid the risks," he said. Nikolov added that Bulgaria also has a long-term agreement with Azerbaijan, under which the quantities will be optimized. Bulgaria also has the opportunity to supply liquefied natural gas from many places, which we should not worry about.
Regarding the construction of a new nuclear power plant in Bulgaria, Nikolov said that all possible scenarios are being discussed here as well. However, he noted that the option of building new units at Kozloduy NPP is mainly being considered, as such a project would be implemented faster there. However, Nikolov was adamant that there is no possibility to restart the suspended units 3 and 4 there. He also noted that so far he could not answer unequivocally whether the Belene project would be finally put to an end, since the main option under consideration is the construction of new units at Kozloduy NPP. But his personal opinion is that since Bulgaria has this nuclear power plant, which works very well, has the necessary potential of staff, has a licensed site and infrastructure for transmission of energy produced, new facilities must be built there.
Nikolov also said that there should be no worries given the war in Ukraine regarding the upcoming repairs of Units 5 and 6 at Kozloduy, which should happen with Russian help.
He also noted that it is quite logical for our neighboring countries to show interest in base capacity as a new nuclear power plant in Bulgaria, as we are the only exporter of electricity in the region, and all others have a deficit in terms of their own production.
Regarding the queues at gas stations a few days ago and the information circulating on the Internet that fuel prices will rise sharply, the Energy Minister said that during a geopolitical conflict involving one of the countries, which is a major supplier to the region, difficult to comment on and predict what will happen to prices. Regarding the observed situation with the replenishment of fuels, it became clear from his words that this was due more to false news and creating panic. He once again stressed that there are no problems with the supply and available quantities of motor fuels in our country. However, he said that it was not possible to predict what would happen to the prices, as they depended on many factors such as quotations on international markets, delivery prices, where these deliveries would come from, etc. However, he added that so far there has been no drastic rise in oil prices on the world market and, accordingly, a sharp rise in gasoline and diesel prices in Bulgaria should not be expected. "But in the long run, if the war continues and if the conflict is not resolved in the best and most diplomatic way, it is natural to expect a turmoil for the region," Nikolov said. According to him, it is possible in the medium and long term to expect the prices of gas stations to exceed the psychological limit of BGN 3 per liter. But when the war in Ukraine comes to an end, he believes it is unlikely to happen.
Regarding GERB's calls to release quantities of petrol and diesel from the state reserve, which were bought at lower prices in order to calm the market, the Minister of Energy commented that there is no reason in this idea. He added that there is currently no reason to release such reserves, as we are neither at war nor in short supply. "What we would achieve with such a measure is to empty the reserve, which should be used in much more critical situations," Nikolov explained. He added that the price of gasoline and diesel in our country is currently the lowest compared to all EU member states in our region, and excise duties are at the lowest levels in the Community.
At the moment, there is no reason to expect an increase in electricity prices for household consumers from July 1, Nikolov added. He added that together with the experts in the EWRC and the BEH the state will apply all possible instruments so that there is no increase. However, he refused to predict whether the moratorium on prices for household subscribers would be extended, explaining that only the National Assembly could do so. It became clear from his words that he trusts the deputies and expects them to make the most reasonable decision. And whatever it is, the executive will comply with it.
Regarding the idea of diversification of household consumers and the separation of the energy poor into a separate group, Nikolov commented that this would be a very appropriate measure, especially with a clear definition of energy poverty. According to him, the relevant compensation and support to consumers should be very clearly and precisely targeted at those who really need it.