Bulgaria won’t discuss renewal of gas deal with Gazprom

A 3D printed gas pipeline is placed in front of the Gazprom logo displayed in this illustration taken February 8, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

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SOFIA, March 19 (Reuters) – Bulgaria will not enter into negotiations with Russian energy giant Gazprom to renew its contract to buy natural gas amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and will consider other sources of supply, Deputy Prime Minister Assen Vassilev said on Saturday.

The European Union country meets nearly all of its gas needs with Russian gas under a 10-year deal with Gazprom that expires at the end of 2022.

“In this situation, there can be no talks with Gazprom… There are alternatives,” Vassilev told public radio BNR. “It’s not just Bulgaria, it’s a common European strategy.”

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Vassilev said Sofia would seek to import liquefied natural gas (LNG) from terminals in neighboring Turkey and Greece and increase the amount of Azeri gas it can receive.

Bulgaria, where annual gas consumption is about 3 billion cubic meters (bcm), has reached an agreement to receive 1 bcm of Azeri gas, but will only be able to fully exploit the contract after the commissioning of a new gas pipeline with Greece later this year.

Earlier this month, the EU’s executive, the European Commission, published plans to cut the bloc’s dependence on Russian gas by two-thirds this year and end its reliance “well before 2030”. Read more

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last month triggered an overhaul of energy priorities in the EU27, which depends on Russia for around 40% of its natural gas.

Vassilev said Bulgaria supports the idea of ​​a common gas supply contract for the EU, which could eliminate competition between member states and offer better prices due to higher volumes.

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Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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