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Moldova finds alternatives to Russia’s Gazprom

Ex-Soviet Moldova has selected seven companies to secure gas from next month should the supply from Russia’s Gazprom be disrupted, a senior government official reported.

The country’s deputy Prime Minister Andrei Spînu, who has led Moldova’s team of negotiators in talks with Gazprom through a year of steep price increases, told a Moldovan television programme late on Monday that the Russian giant was “unpredictable”.

Moldova can draw on EUR 300 mln put up by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in the event of a break in Russian supply, he told JurnalTV.

“For now we have chosen seven companies. Gazprom is not among them,” he pointed out.

State gas company Moldovagaz reported on Tuesday it had paid for August deliveries and was due to make its 50 percent advance payment for September amounting to USD 33.89 mln, though a senior company source told Reuters it was uncertain it had the funds to do so.

One of Europe’s poorest countries, Moldova is heavily reliant on Russian gas, and has been hit hard by the increase in spot gas prices since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

The country has said Gazprom could cut off gas if one of the contractual conditions is not met – completion of an audit of its accumulated debt for supplies estimated at USD 709 mln.

“We will learn of its decision on supplying gas in October on the last day, perhaps in the last few hours,” Mr Spînu said.

On Monday, Moldovagaz asked the country’s energy regulator for permission to raise gas prices for consumers by 31.5 percent.

The move was announced by the company’s head in a post on Telegram, with the proposed new price being 26,675 Moldovan lei (USD 1,382) per 1,000 cubic metres.

Prices on the open market now stand at just below USD 2,000 per 1,000 cubic metres.

With winter approaching, Moldova’s 3.5 million people are enduring serious economic difficulties associated with energy prices, the cost of which has increased by 29 percent in September after surging by almost 50 percent in August.

Thousands massed by government headquarters on Sunday to denounce the high prices and to demand the resignation of President Maia Sandu and her government in the largest protest since her election in 2020.

18th Sept, a large-scale protest action was taking place in the capital of Moldova -against gas price increases. It was organized by the opposition Shor Party. Up to 50 thousand participants were expected to join.

— Elena Evdokimova (@elenaevdokimov7) September 19, 2022

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