Russia’s energy giant Gazprom warned Moldova on Monday (Nov 22) it would cut off gas supplies to the small East European nation in 48 hours unless it pays $73 million for recent deliveries.
"In accordance with the contract, the Moldovan side was notified that the gas supplies would be ceased in 48 hours, because of the current debts’’ Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupryanov told Russian broadcaster NTV.
Moldova, a country of 2.6 million inhabitants located between Romania and Ukraine, declared an emergency in September after its long-term contract with Gazprom expired without a new deal being put in place.
After several weeks of negotiations, Moldova and Gazprom signed a contract. Kuprianov said that Gazprom had agreed to sign the contract on condition that Moldova paid its invoices in full and on time.
“A significant and important” point in the gas supply deal with Moldova was getting “100% current payments for gas on time,” Kupriyanov added. “The next deadline for current payments was today, November 22. There has been no payment.” According to Kupriyanov, Gazprom was "extremely disappointed with Moldova's failure to fulfil its contractual obligations."
Officials in Chisinau, Moldova’s capital, requested this week another extension.
“We will do everything needed, in order not to allow the ceasing of the gas supply, despite all speculations” Moldpress quoted Moldova's Deputy Prime Minister, Infrastructure and Regional Development Minister Andrei Spinu as saying on Tuesday (Nov. 23).
Moldovan Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita on Wednesday (Nov. 24) urged parliament to approve budget amendments that would allow Moldovagaz, the national energy company to pay Gazprom, the parliamentary press service said in a statement.
Gazprom later on Wednesday said it has agreed not to stop gas exports to Moldova, expecting full payments on Friday (Nov.26).
“I have just received Gazprom’s response to my request to extend the payment term for current gas consumption,” Spinu said in a statement. “The deadline has been extended until Friday." He added that the government “has taken all the necessary measures to pay off the accumulated debt for October-November on Friday.”
Kupriyanov said in a statement Wednesday that Gazprom “showing goodwill and understanding what a difficult situation the citizens of Moldova may face, agreed to this request.”
It looks like an energy crisis in the small republic has been averted. At least for now.
Until September, when the longstanding gas contract ended, Russia had supplied all of Moldova’s natural gas. But after initial efforts to secure a new deal fell through, Moldova bought a million cubic meters of natural gas from Poland in a trial purchase to diversify the country’s energy supplies. It was the first time the former Soviet Union nation had turned to a non-Russian gas supplier.
A gas interconnector between Moldova and Romania became operational in 2015 but currently only supplies the 35,000 inhabitants of Ungheni, a border town.