Bulgaria’s Government has Asked Gazprom for Negotiations and is Waiting for an Answer

Energy | August 26, 2022, Friday // 11:48|  views

Acting Energy Minister Rosen Hristov

There are still no active talks with Gazprom, but the caretaker government has sent notice that it is ready to resume negotiations.”

This is what the Acting Energy Minister Rosen Hristov said in the studio of Nova TV.

He explained that they expect a response from the Russian supplier today or at the latest on Monday next week.

"We have given an indication that we want to start negotiations, or rather to continue negotiations to clarify some controversial terms of the contract. We simply sent information that we were ready to negotiate and asked them to resume contact.

We told them that we are ready to resume negotiations on the contract and that we have proposals for a number of amendments that would optimize it", said Hristov.

Among the proposals of the official cabinet is an extension of the period for taking the remaining quantities of gas. "There is no way we can use up the quantities of gas under this contract", the energy minister is categorical, therefore the proposal is that they be accepted in 2023 - until the heating season, "so that there is not a big difference in the general mix".

He clarified that there will be no talks about renewing the contract.

"We are only talking about the old contract, we will not re-sign or negotiate a new contract," said Hristov.

However, the minister did not know legally how the eventual negotiations in question would take shape - with an annex or otherwise. To the host's remark that this is actually very important because Bulgaria must be able to seek its rights if in the end, it does not get gas, Hristov replied that the office worked very carefully and selected a team of experienced lawyers, who also had external consultants, so "we pay attention to all these critical moments".

"That is why we are not in a hurry with negotiations and decisions", claims the minister assigned by President Rumen Radev.

To a repeated question about whether our country in practice recognizes through negotiations that it has no claims against Gazprom, which unilaterally decided to stop supplies, Hristov stated:

"So... both parties can have claims under the contract. So the risk of them making claims at the moment is greater than us making claims against them. That's what the lawyers think."

We recall that yesterday Radev's former chief secretary, now Acting Minister of Defense Dimitar Stoyanov, stated that he is waiting for Gazprom to condemn us to arbitration for 1 billion dollars.

When asked why the lawyers thought so, after experts say every day that Gazprom blocked the contract, not the Bulgarian side, and accordingly our claims are true and there is no risk of being convicted, Hristov indicated the long-articulated "other point of view":

Gazprom makes a change in the terms of payment (i.e. to be in rubles), we do not agree to these terms and want some additional changes. Accordingly, Gazprom does not agree to this thing and the negotiations stop. But there is a practice in Europe where many other countries pay according to this scheme. That is, all of Europe pays according to the same scheme that was proposed to Bulgaria."

"Countries - no, but companies, private ones" - countered the presenter. And the minister was forced to agree, but pointed out:

"In Bulgaria, the state doesn't buy either, a company buys the gas - Bulgargaz" (maybe it doesn't matter that it is state-owned).

"But Bulgargaz is state-owned" - again opposes Mira Ivanova from Nova TV.

"It doesn't matter at all, it is a legal entity," Hristov shared his view.

However, the presenter still could not understand on what basis the caretaker government thinks that Bulgaria can be condemned without being guilty of the stopped supplies, to which the minister replied that the legal analysis was 100 pages long and if they started discussing it in the studio, along with a team of lawyers, and spend at least a day talking about this topic.

"The logic is simple - the penalties that we would pay if they bring (claims) are so great that even if there is a minimal chance that they will win, the risk that way is too great, given the fact that other countries are working..., other companies, work on the same payment scheme. What is the logic for us to be the right party, that is, for everyone else to do it the wrong way," Rumen Hristov tried to explain the "simple logic".

When asked if the caretaker government is doing as it normally does - every day it sends letters to Gazprom to request the quantities and transfer money (i.e. fulfills the contract as it is), Hristov replied:

"Of course not. Why should we do something that hasn't worked and expect something to work out."

"So that they don't sue us later" - answered the host.

And the minister laughed. "The fact that they're transferring money is no reason for anything. We can make requests, the requests come back with zero confirmation. We're following the terms of the contract so that we're as protected as possible. It's not going anywhere. So right now we're on hold. The chance that December 31 will come and they will make demands under the take or pay clause is real," he believes.

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Tags: Gazprom, gas, Russia, Bulgaria, Hristov


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