Cheap alternative to Russian gas found – Bulgaria

The US LNG deal was reached after Sofia rejected Moscow’s ruble payment demand

Bulgaria has reached a deal to buy liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the US, the country’s government said in a statement on Wednesday. The agreement was reached during a meeting between Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov and US Vice President Kamala Harris.

Deliveries will begin in June, and, according to the statement, the country will be getting the commodity at a lower price than it paid for natural gas deliveries from Russia, although the exact sum has not been revealed so far.

Russia stopped gas deliveries to Bulgaria due to Sofia’s rejection of Moscow’s new ruble-based payment mechanism, which was introduced to secure gas payments in the face of Western sanctions that limited Russian financial transactions.

Bulgarian Energy Minister Alexander Nikolov commented on Sofia’s decision, stating that the procedure for paying for gas in accordance with Russia’s new demands “entails significant risks.”

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“In practice, we will lose control of our money after paying in US dollars, as we agreed. There will be a risk of breach of obligations – non-fulfilment [of conditions] by a Russian bank, which will be responsible for converting the corresponding amount into rubles,” he claimed.

However, at least 10 of Russia’s European buyers have already complied with the new payment mechanism, opening accounts with Gazprombank for transferring payments. Most recently, Germany’s gas importer VNG agreed to the ruble-based gas payment scheme and opened the necessary accounts. The company said that it expects the conversion into rubles to not cause any difficulties, noting that “the opening of the account went completely smoothly.

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