Russia Reduces Gas Flow to Serbia over Unpaid Debt
Russia has cut gas deliveries to Serbia by 28% over the past week, Serbia’s Energy Minister Aleksandar Antic has said.
He attributed the cut to a drop in gas supplies by Russia’s Gazprom Export to all other countries receiving gas via the Ukraine transit route and Serbia’s debt for past deliveries totalling USD 224M.
According to Antic, Serbia has received 3.2 million cubic meters of gas from Russia over the past week, instead of 4.5 million cubic meters per day.
“In any scenario, Serbia has no reason to worry, and we will have no problems concerning the gas supply, as we have a stable long-term contract with Gazprom, as well as domestic supplies and additional quantities stored in Banatski Dvor,” Tanjug news agency quoted Antic as saying.
Antic said that he would meet with Russian partners next week to discuss debt rescheduling, adding that the first tranche of USD 100M could be paid by the end of 2014.
Serbian daily Danas reported earlier that Russia has decided to cut gas supplies to Serbia after Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic refused to sign a protocol for the repayment of USD 200M in Serbia's debt for past Russian gas deliveries during the recent visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to Belgrade.
According to unnamed sources quoted by Danas, Vucic had refused to sign guarantees that Serbia will repay the entire debt by March 2015 because he believed Russia is “already making a huge profit in Serbia via NIS”.
Russia’s Gazprom Neft acquired 51% of Serbia’s oil monopoly NIS for EUR 400M in 2008. The Serbian government has since argued Russia benefited from the deal much more than Serbia and has hinted it would seek to revise it, something Moscow has ruled out.
"We have partner relations with Russia," Serbia’s Deputy Prime Minister Zorana Ivanovic told the N1 channel . "We are prepared to pay USD 100M swiftly, but we must work like partners and talk every day."
Serbia relies mostly on supplies from Russia via Ukraine and Hungary to meet its gas needs.The country’s Banatski Dvor underground gas storage has been filled to its capacity of 450 million cubic meters - enough to meet household demand for about three months.
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