Moldova’s gas importer and distributor Moldovagaz has issued a new warning about the possibility of losing access to Russian gas supplies later in January and February.

Payments from its customers have not been high enough to cover its own bills with Russian gas giant Gazprom for supplies so far this year.

Moldovagaz executive board chairman Vadim Cheban said the company bought gas from Gazprom at an average of $647 per thousand cubic metres in January, while it could only bill its customers at the maximum government-approved price of $430 per thousand cubic metres.

On social media on Tuesday, Cheban said the company has asked its shareholders — the Moldova government and Gazprom — to consider providing short-term bridging loans or delay the payment beyond the current due date of 20 January.

Earlier in January, Moldovagaz said it had been unable to arrange any loans from Moldova banks because of remaining multi-million dollar arrears to Gazprom for past gas deliveries.

Cheban said the company also petitioned the Moldova government for a temporary rebate of the national budget contributions worth $22 million made through value added tax payments made by its customers.

Last year, the government provided Moldovagaz with a $75 million loan to enable it to pay Gazprom and avoid the halt in supplies.

Additionally, Cheban has proposed that the government cover the difference between energy prices paid by households and the real price Moldovagaz has to pay.

The Moldova government has yet to provide its response to Moldovagaz’s proposals.

However, on Monday, Infrastructure & Regional Development Minister Andrey Spynu told a local television network that Moldova will be pushing Moscow for a revision of terms of its gas supply contract with Gazprom after this winter.

Moldova narrowly avoided a complete stoppage of Russian gas deliveries in November after signing a last-minute deal with Gazprom to extend a Moldovagaz’s long-term agreement with the Russian monopoly on amended price terms for another five years.

The country, together with southern part of its neighbour Ukraine, is part of a region that has historically been subject to assertion of Russian interests and geopolitical power plays relating to access to the Black Sea.

Russian supplies via Ukraine in steep decline

International tensions are running high over fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, but analysts can already point to a steep reduction of Russian natural gas flows to Europe across Ukraine and Poland.

A further reduction this month, which remains unexplained by Gazprom, has increased anxiety over energy security further and analysts believe that any direct military confrontation in Ukraine will most likely result in the full halt of Russian transit gas supplies to Europe through this country.

Russian governmental officials have repeatedly urged European authorities to remove regulatory obstacles to the controversial Nord Stream 2 subsea gas pipeline to Germany — for which certification remains on hold — in order to obtain access to alternative supplies.

According to Gazprom’s disclosures, its gas supplies via Ukraine to Europe and Moldova fell to below 50 million cubic metres per day from 14 January, though they ran at the rate of over 124 MMcmd in the same period in January 2021.

In a separate statement, Gazprom said that its gas production rose by 2% to 23 billion cubic metres in the first half of this month against the same period of 2021.

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