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    Moldova could displace Russian gas this winter: press


Deputy prime minister claims a pre-qualification attracted seven potential bidders.

by: Callum Cyrus

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Natural Gas & LNG News, Europe, Political, Intergovernmental agreements, Supply/Demand, Balkans/SEE Focus, News By Country, Moldova, Russia

Moldova could displace Russian gas this winter: press

Moldova's pro-EU government could choose to buy gas from Romania or Azerbaijan, should Gazprom allow its long-term purchase agreement to lapse this winter, though it hopes the Russian deal will be maintained at a "much better price" from October 1.

Andrei Spinu, deputy prime minister of Moldova, told local broadcaster TVC 21 September 7 that a pre-qualification tender for winter gas had attracted seven potential suppliers. He said either Azerbaijan or Romania could be selected given Moscow's isolation in European diplomatic circles, and the ongoing hostilities in Ukraine.

Romania is technically able to supply Moldova via an EBRD-backed interconnector commissioned last year, though spot volumes fuelled by European demand have so far been offered at higher price than Gazprom's rate.

Spinu noted that Gazprom's long-term contract would move to a new pricing formula from October so long as Gazprom does not unilaterally cancel, though this seems a distinct possibility given the substantial debts Moldova owes.

Gazprom's gas supply deal is reportedly priced at $1,459/'000 m3. The Russian gas export monopoly estimated in October 2021 that Moldova had accrued $709mn of debt for purchased volumes, though Moldovan utility Moldovagaz disputes this and has demanded an audit of the amount it owes.

The purchase price has provided political leverage to Moldova's biggest opposition party, which has called for snap elections on what it says is the government's failure to finalise favourable terms, though polls suggest Moldovans mainly favour EU ties.

Moldovagaz, Moldova's national gas supplier, recently filed a regulatory request to national body ANRE to raise the gas tariff, TRM claimed, which remains significantly below Gazprom's contract.

Moldova bought 24.5mn m3 of gas from Gazprom this spring, Spinu said, and a further 10mn m3 of supplies in August. The government, which in June secured €300mn ($297.3mn) for gas purchases under a credit line from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, is now preparing to secure "emergency" gas reserves that should last five-to-10 days, as it is required to do so under national law.

"The first €100mn will be used for the purchase of gas stocks, and the other €200mn can be used either to ensure [sic] the stocks or if Gazprom decides to stop deliveries to Moldova, [then] gas will be procured [from other companies] to be delivered to the citizens and the economy," Spinu said.

Moldova is governed by a pro-European Union political coalition, leaving it exposed to political attacks from the main party of opposition, which favours closer ties with the Kremlin.

Spinu, however, appealed to Moldovans to consider the geopolitical factors outside the government's control that had affected gas prices. We are preparing a compensation package for gas because we understand that the tariff will be high. We want the diversification of sources," he said. "We are in discussions with Romania and Azerbaijan, with whom we want to sign a long-term contract, that is, for 10-15 years for certain quantities of gas, so that we don't have contracts from year to year."