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Moldovan leader worried about possible halt of gas transit through Ukraine

Moldova intends to request a gas supply discount from Gazprom

CHISINAU, July 16. /TASS/. Moldova is concerned about the possible halt of the gas transit through Ukraine next year, Moldovan President Igor Dodon said in an interview with TASS ahead of his working trip to Moscow on Wednesday, where he intends to discuss the situation with the top management of the Russian energy giant Gazprom.

"The current contract to supply natural gas to the republic expires at the end of 2019, we need to agree and sign a new one," the president pointed out. "The situation with the gas transit through Ukraine is very complicated and mainly depends on the political climate in the neighboring state. There is a risk that gas transit from Russia to Balkan states through Ukraine and our country [Moldova] will be reduced starting 2020." According to him, this will have a negative impact on the republic's transit revenues and can lead to a decrease or even a complete halt of Russian gas supplies to the republic.

Dodon underlines that the Ungheni-Chisinau natural gas pipeline, a project that was to provide an alternative gas route from neighboring Romania, for which the EU allocated funds to the previous governments of Moldova, still has not been completed. "But even if it is constructed, it is unclear where to find gas for it. It is also unclear whether Moldova can arrange reverse gas supplies through the Ukrainian national gas transmission system if need be," he said.

Request for a discount

The Moldovan leader is also intending to approach Gazprom for a discount for the supplied gas due to the economic downturn left by former Prime Minister Pavel Filip.

"From the previous cabinet we inherited an "energy bomb," due to which gas prices may soar [for Moldovans — TASS]. This can be averted by employing domestic and foreign reserves, namely holding talks with Gazprom on a discount effective as from now, not from January 1. I believe that the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) observer status obtained by Moldova will help us to succeed," Dodon explained. According to him, in the course of the Moscow visit, he intends to introduce a candidate to head the joint Russian-Moldovan MoldovaGaz JSC to the Gazprom management board. This will be Vadim Cheban who used to deal with power supplies in the Energy Ministry and served as deputy head of the Autonomous Territorial Unit of Gagauzia. "He will deal with these issues," Dodon clarified.

"Tomorrow I will make a short working visit to Moscow, where together with the Russian authorities we will discuss a reduction in the price of natural gas supplies to Moldova. This topic will be raised at a meeting with the management of Gazprom. If a consensus is reached in these negotiations the need to increase tariffs will diminish significantly," Dodon wrote on his Facebook page.

"The experience of the past years shows that a delay in this process may jeopardize the country's energy security, especially during the cold season," the head of Moldova said.

Moldova is purchasing gas from Gazprom in accordance with the contract that was signed in 2008 and from then on is annually extended. The contract stipulates that the gas prices for Moldova are linked to the global market price. During his visit to Moscow in February 2019, Dodon asked Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller to grant Moldova a 25% discount for the gas supplied to the country. Following the meeting with Miller on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), the Moldovan leader announced that an agreement was reached with Gazprom to launch negotiations on new gas supply conditions for Moldova and its transit starting on January 1, 2020. Last year, Gazprom supplied 2.9 billion cubic meters of gas to Moldova, an 8.4% increase compared to 2017.