Moldova needs plan to pay for gas, says utility chief, after Gazprom warning

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CHISINAU — Moldova’s pro-Western government, faced with warnings from Russian gas supplier Gazprom about non-payment of its obligations, must come up with a plan to pay for gas supplies as winter is fast approaching, said the head of the gas company Moldovagaz.

Vadim Ceban, speaking on TV8 on Thursday evening, said the former Soviet state had to pay 53 million cubic meters (m3) of gas to cover October needs, but that figure would rise sharply next month.

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« In November, with the cold weather, the gas volume will rise to 150 million m3 and we will have to think about how to pay for it, » Ceban said.

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Last week, Gazprom said it could completely cut off gas to Moldova unless all contractual obligations are met by October 29, including the settlement of a long-standing debt of around 709 million dollars for past procurements.

Ceban said in early October that flows had already been reduced by that time by 30%.

Moldova, wedged between Ukraine and Romania, depends on Russian gas and now pays for 50% of its supplies up front, with the rest paid later.

Gas prices have soared this year, in part because of the conflict in Ukraine, and Moldova’s Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Spinu said the country has allowed only « small delays » in its payments.

Under the terms of a five-year contract, Moldovagaz and Gazprom are to agree by early November on gas supply volumes for the following 12 months.

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High inflation, especially for energy, has sparked weekly street protests against pro-Western President Maia Sandu, who has denounced Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

Sandu, elected with an overwhelming majority in 2020, pledged to join the European Union and received considerable support from the EU. His government is committed to securing gas supplies from other sources.

“(Russian President Vladimir) Putin clearly hopes that when consumers see the gas tariffs and payments, they will choose a more Russia-friendly government,” energy security analyst Sergiu Tofilat told Reuters.

« We’ll find other sources and if we can’t make payments, we’ll find ways to save. » (Reporting by Alexander Tanas; Writing in Winnipeg by Ronald Popeski; Editing by Edmund Klamann)



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