North Macedonia Demands Compensation from Bulgaria if it has to Pay the "Russian Gas" Tax

Politics | October 26, 2023, Thursday // 11:09|  views


If the extraordinary energy tax on the transfer and transit of Russian natural gas through Bulgarian territory is introduced for the Republic of North Macedonia, the country will request compensation from Bulgaria and additional support from the European Union.

This was announced by the Minister of Economy of North Macedonia, Kreshnik Bekteshi, quoted by BTA.

From October 13, Bulgaria introduced an extraordinary energy tax on the transmission and transit of Russian natural gas through its territory in the amount of BGN 20/mWh. This is around 20% of the price of European gas traded in the regional center of Amsterdam.

The aim is to make it more unprofitable for Gazprom to supply gas through Bulgaria, the Bulgarian authorities claim, expecting an income of about 3 billion leva (1.5 billion euros) a year.

"The new tax is fully in line with the EU's goals to reduce dependence on Russian fossil fuels. Since most of Gazprom's contracts are determined at the point of delivery in a given country, the tax is unlikely to have an impact on downstream gas prices. This will only reduce Gazprom's profits", commented to the Financial Times Bulgarian Finance Minister Asen Vassilev last week.

He announced that the Bulgarian government had notified the European Commission of the changes, which subsequently confirmed and stated that it approved the measure.

The gas pipeline through Bulgaria to Serbia is the only way North Macedonia is supplied with gas.

"If they introduce a tax for the natural gas coming from Gazprom, which is legitimate from their side, then the quantities that Gazprom gives to North Macedonia should be released. This is our demand. We do not want to interfere in the fiscal policy of Bulgaria, but in the market liberalization part, we have every right to ask the EU to demand it from their member countries. We have already signaled the European Energy Community and the European Commission," Bekteshi said in response to a journalist's question during a business forum organized by the Delegation of the German economy in the country.

Bekteshi pointed out that there is a request from Bulgaria to build a new gas pipeline between the two countries, and by the end of the year the construction of a new gas pipeline with Greece will begin, which is supported by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the country's strategic partners.

"We will not allow extortion from Bulgaria or from anyone. We will continue to diversify our gas supply sources. We have already started and there is no compromise with this... Regarding the release of capacities, this is the obligation of the European union, because we are talking about the principles of complete liberalization of the markets", said Bekteshi, who specified that North Macedonia insists that capacities be released so that the country can be supplied with gas from other sources "including from Azerbaijan, and why not through the terminals from Greece".

Construction of a new Petrich-Strumica gas interconnector was among the topics discussed during the infrastructure, transport and energy working group in March last year with the participation of the then Minister of Energy of Bulgaria, Alexander Nikolov, and the Minister of Economy of the Republic of North Macedonia, Kreshnik Bekteshi.

He specified that the quantities of gas that were released in the previous year were not sufficient for the needs of North Macedonia and this will certainly affect the price of natural gas, especially for the needs of the economy in the country.

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Tags: Bulgaria, north macedonia, gas, tax


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