In Bulgaria a Regional Coordination Center for Gas and Electricity Supply in Southeast Europe will be established

Energy | April 28, 2022, Thursday // 20:58|  views

Deputy Prime Minister Asen Vassilev meeting EU representatives @Council of Ministers

“Bulgaria is able to replace all gas supplies from Russia”, Deputy Prime Minister Asen Vassilev told reporters in Brussels.

He visited the European Commission together with the Minister of Energy Alexander Nikolov. The visit was due to Gazprom's decision to suspend gas for Bulgaria.

Instead, we will receive gas through the southern gas corridor, as well as liquefied natural gas through Greece and Turkey.

This plan was launched in March and is currently being implemented.

"There will be no problems with supplies even in the winter," Vassilev assured.

"Bulgaria is exploring all possible options for retaliation against Gazprom's move," he added. If there is a reason, our country will sue the Russian company.

A center in Bulgaria will coordinate the infrastructure in Southeast Europe

A regional coordination center will also operate in Bulgaria, managing general support for gas and electricity infrastructure throughout the region, including Italy. It will take effect within two weeks, the deputy prime minister said in response to a question from the media ClubZ.

The two ministers met with EC Vice-President Frans Timmermans and representatives of the cabinets of President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel. The current situation was discussed both in Bulgaria and in the whole European Union after the unilateral suspension of supplies to Bulgaria and Poland by Gazprom.

Our country has asked for the decision to receive liquefied natural gas not only for Bulgaria. The infrastructure for transporting 20 billion cubic meters of gas that we have is being used for Europe and the region. And that is why in Bulgaria a regional center will be built.

3 billion of these 20 billion are the amount that Bulgaria needs annually, Vassilev said.

When the best infrastructure solution for the region is implemented, the general orders for gas purchase will start. This is expected to happen in mid-May.

What is our contract with Gazprom

Bulgaria has no intention of opening a ruble account with Gazprombank, Asen Vassilev told reporters. So far, our country has paid for gas purchases in dollars.

"We have never left our contract with Gazprom, and Gazprom has stopped fulfilling it unilaterally," Asen Vassilev was adamant.

According to him, this is what the other member states expect. Bulgaria has requested legal assistance for the arbitration, as well as to see whether there is a use of market dominance in the termination of the contract in order to activate the legal teams of the European Commission. And if we have grounds, we will sue Gazprom.

The demands of the Russian side to pay in rubles hide some ambiguities. Sofia has asked for clarifications, but has never received them from Moscow, Alexander Nikolov said. In addition, the Russians have not only asked us to pay in rubles, but also to allow a transaction to be carried out on an external unit, such as the Moscow Stock Exchange. And it so happens that there is a long period of time in which the Bulgarian side does not control the movement of money. At the same time, if we sign the Russian letter, it means that it becomes part of the current agreement. Thus, our country will not be able to file any claims for arbitration.

"There is no sensible person who would sign such a letter," the energy minister said.

At the meetings of Vassilev and Nikolov from Brussels, they confirmed that the payment in rubles is in violation of the sanctions against Russia.

What we expect now in terms of prices may be better than what Gazprom has proposed, Asen Vassilev hinted, without giving more details. His words were about the request of business representatives for a ceiling on gas prices.

Alexander Nikolov added that before making promises, it must be assessed whether there is a resource available.

Vassilev is convinced that the emerging problem will further fuel the ruling 4-party coalition. And the decision that is being made at the moment is the best for our country, for business and for all Bulgarian citizens.

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Tags: energy, gas, Bulgaria, Russia


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