Russia to halt gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria

The Yamal–Europe gas pipeline in Poland

Russian energy firm Gazprom has told Poland and Bulgaria it will stop sending gas to the two countries from Wednesday.

Polish state gas company PGNiG said it had been told all gas deliveries would be halted from 08:00 CET (06:00 GMT).

The Bulgarian Energy Ministry also said it had been informed deliveries would be suspended from Wednesday. It comes after Russia said “unfriendly” countries must start paying for gas in roubles or it would cut supplies. Both countries have refused to pay in this way.

PGNiG relies on Gazprom for the majority of its gas imports and bought 53% of its imports from the Russian company in the first quarter of this year. It described the suspension as a breach of contract, adding that the company would take steps to reinstate the flow of gas.

Bulgaria, which relies on Gazprom for more than 90% of its gas supply, said it had taken steps to find alternative sources but no restrictions on gas consumption were currently required.

The country’s energy ministry said Bulgaria had fulfilled its obligations under the current contract with Gazprom and made all required payments.

It added that the new payment system proposed by Russia was in breach of the existing contract. Following the news, Poland’s climate ministry said the country’s energy supplies were secure.

Climate Minister Anna Moskwa said there was no need to draw gas from reserves and gas to customers would not be cut. Poland’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Marcin Przydacz, said his country had been preparing for the possibility Russia might limit gas exports by diversifying its supplies. “I’m pretty sure that we will manage to handle this,” he said.

He added that the suspension proved Moscow was “not a reliable partner in any kind of business” and urged other European nations like Germany to support a ban on Russian energy imports. Poland was already planning to stop importing Russian gas by the end of the year, when its long-term supply contract with Gazprom expires.

PGNiG said its underground gas storage was almost 80% full and, with summer approaching, demand was lower. Poland also has alternative supply sources, including a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Swinoujscie.

On 1 May, a new gas pipeline connection with Lithuania is also due to open that will give Poland access to gas from Lithuania’s LNG terminal.

And a new pipeline delivering gas from Norway, known as the “Baltic Pipe”, comes online in October. It should reach full capacity by the end of the year and could replace all Russian deliveries.

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