The government is confident that Bulgaria will not be left without natural gas, alternative supply options are being drawn up

Energy / Bulgaria
3E news
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Source: 3eNews, archive

Bulgaria does not have a problem with gas supplies at the moment and the maximum reversal opportunities through Greece and Turkey will be used. This became clear after a political press conference of the party "We continue the change", which was a continuation of the gas debate that engulfed our country. As of today, Bulgaria has not received natural gas from the Russian corporation Gazprom due to its refusal to pay for supplies in a manner determined by Moscow. Our country complies with the European position and refuses to open a special account in Gazprombank, in which incoming payments in dollars to be converted into rubles and traded through the Moscow Stock Exchange. According to our country, there are currently no guarantees that with such payments the funds will actually be received from Gazprom and our country will continue to receive natural gas.

However, the current method of payment is no longer acceptable to Gazprom after President Putin issued a decree a month ago ordering payments from hostile countries (EU-wide) to be converted into rubles in special accounts.

Outside the financial part, Bulgaria remains without physical supplies of natural gas through the Turkish Stream gas pipeline, only the transit of natural gas to Serbia and Hungary is preserved. So far, our country is strictly fulfilling its gas transit agreements, Asen Vassilev was categorical today. We remind you that any deviation of trade volumes would be sanctioned by Gazprom. Our country will also make a full review of the contracts with Gazprom not only for gas, but also for transit through Bulgaria.

At the moment, the government says they have a clear plan for where other gas supplies will come from. The ideas focus on the intention to reverse natural gas supplies from Greece and Turkey. There is even talk that there are reserved capacities that will be used in case of need. It is unclear at what prices such deliveries will be made. A month ago, it was announced that such alternative supplies would be 40% more expensive. It was rumored today that in fact it is possible for natural gas from Azerbaijan to even enter our country at competitive prices. Negotiations are ahead of you first. The gas that comes to our country is now at a price 20 percent higher, but we are working with the EU to have an even lower price than that of Gazprom, said Asen Vassilev. Talks are currently under way with Italy and Greece on natural gas supplies. Tomorrow there are meetings in Brussels to accelerate joint European purchases, which is obviously necessary, said the Deputy Prime Minister.

For now, the supply of gas to consumers will not be reduced, Prime Minister Kiril Petkov assured. He noted that all contracts with Gazprom will be reviewed. Today he went on a visit to Kyiv, where he will travel by train.

Prime Minister Petkov also presented some of the government's forthcoming steps, "to show that unilateral blackmail is not the relations that the Bulgarian state will tolerate."

Ministers Asen Vassilev and Alexander Nikolov are leaving for Brussels on Thursday, where they will discuss a joint reaction with our European partners. Bulgaria has already proposed that the EU negotiate gas supplies from Russia on behalf of all buyer countries.

Earlier, the Minister of Energy Alexander Nikolov reassured the people that the consumption of natural gas in Bulgaria is guaranteed for at least a month ahead and at this time there is no need to restrict certain consumers.

The reason Gazprom Export is suspending supplies is their willingness to pay in rubles through third countries that are not part of the existing contract. This neither guarantees the supply of gas, nor guarantees the Bulgarian funds. We will not succumb to this type of blackmail, Petkov stressed.

Regarding supplies to Bulgaria and transit, the prime minister reiterated that the construction of the Turkish Stream gas pipeline (the so-called Balkan Stream) has not led to the necessary diversification, and that the government continues to liaise with the Greek side on the construction on the interconnector between the two countries.

Asen Vassilev noted that quantities have been reserved for the existing connections. We can ensure the passage of about 20 billion cubic meters of natural gas through the country. We can get 2 billion cubic meters through the Kulata-Sidirokastro reverse link and the rest through Turkey.

The suspension of natural gas to Bulgaria is a unilateral act - we have one country that is incorrect. Unfortunately, this does not surprise us, the same situation we had it in 2009 and in 2014. As a government, we expected similar problems and started preparations in February, said Asen Vassilev, adding: "I don't know why, diversification has lasted so long." Relying on the (building) connection Komitini - Stara Zagora is an excuse not to diversify and this excuse has been used for 15 years, said the Deputy Prime Minister.

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