Bulgaria 'Makes' Europe Top 5 by Gazprom Highest Prices
Bulgaria is among the five countries in Europe that purchase natural gas from Russian giant Gazprom for the highest prices.
In the first half of 2012, only Bulgaria, Macedonia, Bosnia, the Czech Republic and Poland paid more than USD 500 per 1 000 cubic meters, according to data from Gazprom, obtained by the Russian daily "Izvestiya."
The average price for Europe in the first six months of 2012 was USD 413 per 1 000 cubic meters, while Macedonia paid USD 564, Poland - USD 526, Bosnia - USD 515, the Czech Republic - USD 503, and Bulgaria - USD 501.
The Russian publication forecasts "more moderate" Gazprom prices for 2013 over decreasing demand and the European Commission's probe of violations of the anti-cartel laws committed by the Russian company.
Gazprom will attempt to increase volumes sold by offering prices in the vicinity of USD 360 per 1 000 cubic meters in 2013, meaning a 14% price drop, and 8% increase of sales.
The forecast takes into account the discounts already received by a number of European countries, including Bulgaria. Experts say Gazprom offered these discounts in order to speed up construction of the South Stream gas pipeline.
Gazprom sells the cheapest gas to Great Britain - USD 313 per 1 000 cubic meters.
The energy giant, however, never discloses officially prices for Europe. The EC already requested to see the contracts, but there have not been any further developments.
As "Izvestia" notes, such data is published only in cases of gas "wars," like the one with the Ukraine.
Macedonia and Bosnia rely on Russian gas 100%, Bulgaria - 90%, Poland - over 60%.
As Russian experts note, the prices are the highest for the countries that have no alternative sources.
The contracts are individual for each country and the natural gas price is tied with oil prices and changes with a six-month delay.
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If cheaper gas is wanted, then the answer is shale gas. People rallied against shale gas exploration in Bulgaria without putting it into context - Bulgaria is one of Europe's most sparsely populated countries, with a population density less than 1/3 that of Switzerland and 1/4 Germany and the UK. There are huge tracts of Bulgaria with extensive shale gas deposits but without any population. Until this alternative source of gas is exploited, Bulgaria, as a small country with limited buying power will remain at the mercy of price hikes by Gazprom and the other members of the gas cartel.