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Bulgaria seeks talks with Gazprom on gas price

  Bulgaria’s state gas monopoly Bulgargaz said on Monday it was seeking talks with Russia’s Gazprom to review a price formula in a contract for gas deliveries to Bulgaria.

“We would like to set the concrete parameters on how to calculate the price,” Bulgargaz CEO Dimitar Gogov was quoted by state news agency BTA as saying. “The formula applied now works but it’s another matter on what data it would be based,” he said.

In 2006, Bulgargaz signed a memorandum with Gazprom, guaranteeing Russian gas supplies to the Balkan country until 2030 but is yet to negotiate details for the long-term deliveries, Gogov said. He did not give other details.

The Balkan country had two contracts for gas deliveries with Gazprom, expiring in 2010 and 2012 respectively, Bulgargaz said. “As one expires next year, we should start negotiating for its renewal. We will aim to achieve most favorable conditions,” a Bulgargaz spokeswoman said.

Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev told parliament Bulgaria is paying below $400 per 1,000 cubic meters of gas in the first quarter of this year, less than the last quarter of 2008. He also said his country wanted to remove all middlemen between Bulgargaz and Gazprom so that Sofia could seek responsibility directly from the producer in case of problems. Under existing deals, Russia supplies Bulgaria via three of its subsidiaries.

Stanishev also said Bulgargaz would demand financial compensation from the gas distributors once the crisis was over and damages were assessed. “Bulgargaz won’t hesitate to seek compensations,” he told parliament.

The western Balkans and Bulgaria, the poorest European Union nation, are among the worst hit in a Moscow-Kiev gas price dispute which cut Russian flows through Ukraine to Europe. (Reuters)