Does Bulgaria receive Russian Gas through Intermediaries?
Former Minister of Finance Asen Vassilev and Acting Minister of Energy Rosen Hristov with opposite claims on the topic of Russian gas and intermediaries.
Asen Vassilev: We do not receive Russian gas through intermediaries
“We do not receive Russian gas through intermediaries. If Borissov has documents, let him show them”. This was stated by the former Minister of Finance Asen Vassilev to bTV.
Regarding whether Bulgaria is now receiving Russian gas, Vassilev replied that “Bulgargaz” should give an answer. “As far as I know for the last months, gas from Gazprom has not been sent, what I know is that we sent each other the request every day and the next day we did not receive the quantities.”
“This is a practice that we imposed even when our supply was stopped, so that by the end of the year when the contract expires, we will have fulfilled the clauses that we need to fulfill, then we can take the arbitration actions that the other party has not fulfilled its obligations”, Vassilev further emphasized and added that Bulgaria's chances of success after the arbitration actions are high, since it was not Bulgaria that violated the contract.
Regarding former energy minister Alexander Nikolov's claims that the government put pressure on his work, Asen Vassilev denied it, noting that throughout his administration Nikolov himself controlled the energy sector, even declaring it publicly on television.
Regarding President Radev's words that the "Petkov" government is leaving the energy industry in chaos, Asen Vassilev replied that when "Gazprom" stopped supplying, there were no restrictions on consumers. "We started receiving the full agreed amount of Azeri gas - 1 billion cubic meters, the Chiren storage facility continues to fill up, it is even about to fill up 10% more than it was last year at the beginning of the heating season, and in the final days of the government we managed to contract 7 cargo ships for the delivery of liquefied gas, which will be here by the end of March," Vassilev said.
“When we came to power we found out that the Azeri gas was at 30% quantity, we are currently receiving the full amount of gas. We receive these 30% at a reduced price agreed in the contract, and the remaining 70% are received at the price of Russian gas, and the price will be reduced after Act-16 of the Bulgarian-Greek connection is issued,” Asen Vassilev also stated, adding that the interconnector should have received Act-16 by the end of August, and the questions about why this is not happening are for the new acting energy minister. "Regarding the unfinished construction works on the interconnector, provided Act-14 is ready, these details should not be a big problem in any form," he further commented.
"Regarding the 7 tankers for the delivery of liquefied gas, we have said that slots are provided for the first two cargoes, and for the rest, the Greek minister said that if Bulgaria requests, slots will be provided for the other ships as well. Again, why this is not happening, the answer must be given by the new minister of energy", Asen Vassilev also emphasized. The former vice-prime minister and finance minister specified that if no decision is made about the ships by August 19, then someone else will conclude the deal.
On the occasion of the upcoming elections, Vassilev said that while Borissov leads GERB, a coalition with him is not possible. “There is no way to talk about a coalition with Borissov, who organizes a system for diverting public resources”, he added.
“I think we will be the first political force, we are fighting for 121 votes to form a coalition against Bulgarian citizens' money going into gold bars and drawers”, Vassilev said, referring to the gold bars and money found in Borissov’s drawer in his private home.
Rosen Hristov: We receive Russian gas through intermediaries from Greece and other traders
“We receive Russian gas through intermediaries from Greece and from other traders. The statement of former finance minister Asen Vassilev is false”. This was stated by the Caretaker Minister of Energy Rosen Hristov to bTV.
“We asked to extend the offer with “Cheniere” by two weeks to negotiate the unloading slots for the tankers. The tankers are offered, but we do not have a firm delivery contract. I don't know why the slots have not been agreed on in recent months. The situation is like this and there are options for slots, we try to find the optimal price. We've asked for a two-week extension and if they don't agree, the offer lapses, so in two weeks we have to find slots and see what the price is. In order to have stability, we must have ensured the possibility of supplying at least 120% of what we need,” emphasized Hristov.
“Business bankruptcies should not be expected. The Ministry of Energy's priorities are clear. We aim for maximum diversification of gas suppliers so as to ensure both quantity and price, we will cope with this task. We can expect a market price so that consumers do not fall into a serious crisis. The situation will not be easy, we see galloping prices of everything, so the crisis management is a priority and stable energy sources, not only gas is one of our priorities. Diversification is a good tool for overcoming the crisis”, Hristov pointed out. He added that diversification is to find many gas suppliers in order to have competitive conditions and stable quantities. “The situation is complicated, if there was a simple solution, we wouldn't be talking about difficulties and a crisis. One of the sources is LNG, we are also looking for supplies through Greece and Turkey, the Revithoussa terminal is quite busy, the slots there are booked. The price is high whenever supply is limited and demand is high. Therefore, we are looking at alternative options with the terminals in Turkey, pipeline gas with Azerbaijan, places where gas can be replaced with fuel oil”, Hristov listed. “Bulgargaz could have reacted better to the looming crisis. The war started at the beginning of the year, the gas crisis was clear as early as April, we are already in the 4th month of these difficulties. I cannot say that Bulgargaz reacted as well, quickly and aggressively as possible. This is due to many factors, lack of preparation, lack of information. Bulgargaz are set to work according to one regime, many companies fail to react quickly to the change, others take risks and wait for stabilization, it is difficult to say in a crisis which is the right decision”, Hristov added. “Bulgargaz could have at least booked slots and made better predictions”, he emphasized.
“We are trying to provide gas for this year and until the end of the heating season. I don't want to leave a legacy to the next government. We will provide the quantities until the end of the year, ideally until the end of the heating season”, said Hristov.
“We will not deviate from European politics. Buying from Gazprom does not mean that we are leaving the EU framework, we will not accept different conditions from those that Germany and other EU countries have. All risks have been analyzed, so if we start negotiations with Gazprom, we will address everything that is critical for us, so that supplies are stable at an optimal price and security”, Rosen Hristov also pointed out.
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