Bulgaria seeks cheaper Russian gas elsewhere

May 26, 1997 02:00 AM

May 11, 1997 Bulgaria is unhappy with the price it pays for Russian gas and plans to go shopping to get it cheaper, state monopoly Bulgargas said recently. The alternative sources are foreign firms which have loaned money to Russia's Gazprom and take part of their repayments in the form of gas, executive director Vasil Filipov told. Filipov said that prices had risen an unrealistic 24 %.
"Up to now we have been getting Russian natural gas at the Bulgarian border (with Romania) at the price of $ 107.6 per 1,000 cm, while gas prices in Europe and Turkey are lower by $ 10 to $ 15. "Gazprom creditors offer us favourable prices and we will swing towards such suppliers," he said.
Until last month Bulgaria was getting about half its gas supplies from Russia without cash payment under a 10-year-old barter deal. New barter deals are being developed but other imports are handled by joint Gazprom-Bulgargas ventures in which independent firms hold minority stakes. "We will not accept pressure from private companies," Filipov declared, threatening to pull out of one of the joint ventures, Topenergy, which is half-owned by Gazprom and has refused to lower its prices.
Bulgargas reported that it imported some 6 bn cm of Russian natural gas last year, making net profit of $ 640,000 in 1996 against $ 586,000 in 1995.
Petar Sabev, who is also an executive director, said Bulgargas would seek credits from international institutions for the construction of an underground gas storage in abandoned salt caverns in the village of Mirovo, near the industrial area of Devnya in north-east Bulgaria.

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