The Bulgarian government agreed with US officials in June to supply liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the US to the country.
Due to Bulgaria and Poland’s refusal to switch to a gas payment scheme in rubles, Gazprom stopped deliveries to these countries on April 27.
Bulgarian Prime Minister Kirill Petkov and US Vice President Kamala Harris met at the White House. After the negotiations were over, the Bulgarian government, the country will receive gas from the USA “at prices below Gazprom”. The cost at which Sophia plans to purchase energy supplies from Washington was not disclosed.
“Vice-President Kamala Harris congratulated Bulgaria for taking decisive action to defend its energy sovereignty. Prime Minister Petkov noted that the partnership between Sofia and Washington is an important part of Bulgaria’s independence from natural gas, as well as solidarity with the EU.
“It is very important that the government seeks the most favorable conditions for Bulgaria, it is not only about the price, but also about the sustainability of the supply, so that Bulgarian businesses and other consumers can estimate their costs,” said President Romanian. radev.
The Bulgarian Prime Minister also met with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. The two leaders discussed partnership opportunities to diversify the republic’s energy supply and modernize the Bulgarian military.
Suspension of deliveries from Russia
In early April, Bulgaria announced that it would continue to pay for Russian gas in euros. This was a response to the law signed by Vladimir Putin on April 1, which obliges “unfriendly countries” to pay for deliveries in rubles.
“Our country plans to stick to the entire European position and not succumb to pressure while paying for gas. Nowhere in the existing contracts does it say that gas can be paid in rubles, ”the author said.
On April 27, Gazprom stopped deliveries to Bulgaria, as it did not receive payment in rubles.
The Bulgarian Prime Minister described the move as “heavy blackmail”. At the same time, government spokesperson Lena Borislavova said that there is no risk to the country’s energy security.
We were ready for such a scenario for a long time, the Prime Minister was informed of what was going on,” he said.
The Bulgarian Ministry of Energy stated that the country “fulfilled its obligations and made all payments required under the contract on time, strictly and in accordance with its clauses”. The agency also evaluated that the gas payment mechanism proposed by Russia “does not comply with the contract valid until the end of this year and poses significant risks for Bulgaria”.
At the same time, Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, said that Bulgaria and Poland still get the amount of gas it needsbut from neighboring EU countries.
According to him, Gazprom’s decision is “another reminder” that the EU “must work with reliable partners and build energy independence”. The EC described the cut of Bulgaria’s gas connection as a violation of Russia’s contracts.
In turn, the Kremlin did not exclude that other countries, except Bulgaria and Poland, would not buy Russian gas unless they paid in rubles.
The total volume of Russian gas supplies to Bulgaria in 2021 reached 3.3 billion cubic meters. More than 90% of the gas consumed by the republic came from Russia.
Bulgaria has received almost all of the imported gas under a 10-year contract with Gazprom that expires at the end of 2022. Asen Vasilev, the country’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, said that Sofia will not renew the contract after its completion.
According to the minister, Bulgaria has alternative sources of resources, including supplies from Qatar and Algeria.
In addition, there is the possibility of supplying fuel through the Trans-Balkan gas pipeline, which has a production capacity of about 20 billion cubic meters, while Bulgaria needs about 3 billion cubic meters.
In April, the country authorities held talks with Greece and Turkey to use the existing infrastructure for LNG purchases and to increase imports from Azerbaijan, which Bulgaria also has agreements with.