SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — Bulgaria’s interim government signaled its readiness to negotiate with Russian energy company Gazprom on the resumption of natural gas deliveries, the caretaker energy minister said Monday.
Rosen Hristov didn’t set a date for talks with the firm, but said that the gas demands of the industry and heating companies were forcing the government to begin talks with Gazprom to renew supplies which he called “inevitable.”
Bulgaria’s contract with Gazprom expires at the end of 2022, but Russia halted deliveries in late April after the previous pro-Western government in Sofia refused Gazprom’s demand to pay for it in rubles.
“Obviously, we will have to hold negotiations with Gazprom, but those will be very difficult and hard talks,” Hristov told reporters.
Hristov said that Bulgaria has secured gas for October because of a liquefied natural gas shipment from U.S. company Cheniere, adding however that the government had rejected an option for further deliveries because “the rising costs for unloading would make the price of gas too high.”
Hristov didn’t say what price Gazprom would ask for, saying only that it would be “several times cheaper.”
Since coming to power on Aug. 1, the interim government appointed by President Rumen Radev has begun to revise deals made by the previous reformist coalition. The approach has sparked public anger, with people taking to the streets to demand that Bulgaria remains on the path toward gas independence from Russia.