Russia’s energy giant Gazprom has informed Bulgarian state gas company Bulgargaz that it will halt gas supplies as of Wednesday, the energy ministry said on Tuesday.
Bulgaria, almost completely reliant on Russian gas imports, has taken steps to find alternative arrangements for the supply of natural gas and to deal with the situation, the energy ministry said in a statement.
Bulgaria would be the second country after Poland to have its gas cut off by Europe’s main supplier since Moscow started, what it calls, a “special military operation” in Ukraine on Feb. 24.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has demanded that countries he terms “unfriendly” agree to implement a scheme under which they would open accounts at Gazprombank and make payments for Russian gas imports in euros or dollars that would be converted into rubles.
He had threatened to cut gas supplies if the demands would not be fully met.
Bulgaria consumes about 3 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas per year and imports over 90% of it from Russia.
The ministry said Bulgaria has fully fulfilled its obligations under the current contract and has made all required payments, pointing out that the new payment scheme breached the arrangement.
“The new two-stage payment procedure proposed by Russia is not in line with the existing contract until the end of this year and poses significant risks to Bulgaria, including making payments without receiving any gas supplies from the Russian side,” the ministry said. The ministry said, for the time being, no restrictions on gas consumption in the Balkan country were required.
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