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17

Bulgaria Followed Ukraine in Gas Disputes with Gazprom

Bulgarian Economy and Energy Minister Rumen Ovcharov

Bulgaria has refused demands by Russia?s gas giant Gazprom to review its gas-for-transit contract with the Bulgarian state-run gas company Bulgargaz, Bulgarian Economy and Energy Minister Rumen Ovcharov said Monday.

?There are no review-possibility clauses in our contract signed in 1998 to run until 2010,? he said.

Bulgaria?s domestic consumption is also almost 100 percent dependent on gas imports from Russia.

In 1998 Bulgargaz signed two contracts with Gazprom and its export subsidiary Gazexport ? one for direct delivery and one for gas in exchange for transit. Under the first contract Bulgaria currently pays some $258 per 1,000 cubic meters of gas, Ovcharov said. The gas price under the gas-for-transit contract is $83 per 1,000 cubic meters.

But Gazprom has offered to pay cash for its transit fees and set gas prices in both contracts at $258 per 1,000 cubic meters, which is unacceptable, Ovcharov said.

Experts commented in the Bulgarian press on Friday that the refusal might cost Bulgaria its strategic position as an energy hub in the region if Russia decides to decrease the volume of gas piped through Bulgaria.