Monday, January 24

Moldova receives first gas delivery outside Russia as it grapples with severe energy crisis

Moldova has received its “first” delivery of non-Russian gas as the country faces a serious energy crisis.

The delivery of one million cubic meters of natural gas was supplied by PGNiG of Poland.

Chisinau said Poland’s “sample purchase” is intended to “test the ability to import gas from alternative sources and balance the low pressure in the natural gas supply system.”

It added that PGNiG’s offer was one of seven that state-owned company Energocom received after issuing a tender.

The delivery came four days after Moldova declared a month-long state of emergency to secure gas supplies amid a crisis over rising prices.

It comes as the cost of gas skyrockets elsewhere in Europe, amid a perfect storm of factors including increased demand after COVID lockdowns, existing stocks are shrinking by longer winters and weather conditions. , which means that renewable energies cannot cover the deficit.

Almost all of its gas imports come from Russia through Moldovagaz, a company formed with the Russian giant Gazprom.

A gas interconnector between Moldova and neighboring Romania came into operation in 2015, but currently only supplies the 35,000 residents of Ungheni, a border town.

Currently, only 67% of Moldova’s gas needs are covered and negotiations with Gazprom are ongoing for deliveries beyond October 31.

But the government warned that it “has no confidence” in obtaining a positive outcome from the talks.

Critics have accused Gazprom and the Kremlin of raising gasoline prices to punish Moldova after the 2020 election of pro-European President Maia Sandu.

Negotiations are also complicated as Moldovan gas must pass through the pro-Russian territory of Transdniestria.

The Financial Times newspaper also reported Late on Wednesday, Gazprom is pressuring Moldova to delay energy sector reforms and a free trade agreement with the European Union in exchange for cheaper gas prices.

Meanwhile, Gazprom accuses Chisinau of late payments and threatens to cut off the supply if a new contract is not signed.

Euronews has reached out to the Moldovan government and Gazprom for comment.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the country of 2.6 million people is almost entirely dependent on imports of fossil fuels and electricity, with only 20% of its energy demand met nationally in 2018.

It also does not have gas storage facilities, which leaves it particularly vulnerable to geopolitical and price shocks. Disputes between Moscow and Chisinau in 2006 and 2009 left tens of thousands of Moldovan citizens without gas for days in winter. The second instance, which lasted weeks, saw Moldova activate the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, which provided capacity heaters and electric generators.

Sandu discussed the country’s gas supply problems with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen by phone on Wednesday, her office said.

“The European Union has always stood with the citizens of the Republic of Moldova, both in good times and in difficult times. We are grateful for the support provided by the European Union in managing the gas supply crisis,” Sandu said. . said in a statement.

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