Bulgaria is preparing contingency plans to ration gas to industrial consumers in case the gas dispute between Ukraine and Russia once again blocks supplies to the country, the economy minister Petar Dimitrov said on March 04.
Since Bulgaria relies entirely on Russian gas transited through Ukraine, Bulgaria was one of the worst hit countries when the pricing dispute between Moscow and Kiev in January led to a complete halt to all deliveries through Ukrainian pipelines.
Ukraine’s state owned oil and gas company Naftogaz is yet to pay the full bill for February gas deliveries, which could prompt Gazprom to cut off deliveries again.
“There are no grounds to believe that the crisis is inevitable,” Dimitrov was quoted as saying by Dnevnik daily, but conceded that the most likely outcome was a reduction in the amounts of gas shipped through Ukraine.
Naftogaz said that it has paid 80 per cent of the bill and the rest would be transferred by the March 07 deadline, Reuters reported. But after Ukraine’s security service raided Naftogaz headquarters on March 04 as part of a criminal investigation into the company, there are fears that Naftogaz’ ability to make the payment could be disrupted.
Bulgaria has been pumping gas into its Chiren gas storage to prepare for any possible shortfall in deliveries, an unprecedented move during winter months, Dimitrov said. In case deliveries were interrupted, Bulgaria could also pump gas from Greece and Turkey, with whom Bulgaria reached agreements during the January gas crisis, he said.