| 3 March 2024, Sunday |

Russia’s Gazprom to halt gas supplies to Poland, Bulgaria

In the first move of its kind, since Russia insisted foreign buyers pay for gas in rubles, Polish and Bulgarian officials said that Russia’s Gazprom has threatened to cut gas supplies starting Wednesday.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Tuesday that Poland received notice from Russian state energy company Gazprom of plans to halt gas shipments. Morawiecki made the announcement in Berlin following a meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

“We have received threats from Gazprom that it will stop gas deliveries,” Morawiecki said.

Morawiecki said Russia could be attempting to “blackmail” Poland, but noted that Poland had prepared by diversifying its energy sources. He noted gas storage facilities are 76% full.

Polish Climate Minister Anna Moskwa said that “there will be no shortage of gas in Polish homes.”

Polish natural gas company PGNiG also said that as of Wednesday, Gazprom would no longer deliver gas to Poland via the Yamal gas pipeline.

PGNiG said in a statement that it was monitoring the situation and is prepared to obtain gas from other connections thanks to a “government strategy of diversifying” sources.

Later on Tuesday, Bulgaria’s Energy Ministry said state gas company Bulgargaz had received a similar notice from Gazprom. The ministry said it would take steps towards alternative gas supplies, adding that it is not necessary to limit gas consumption for the time being.

Bulgaria is almost completely dependent on Russia for its annual consumption. Bulgargaz said in a statement that it “fully met its obligations and has made all payments required under its current contract in a timely manner, strictly and in accordance with its terms.”
Gazprom did not immediately confirm the cut-offs. However, Russian news agency Tass quoted a Gazprom executive saying that Poland must pay for its gas supplies under a “new payment procedure.”

The gas suspensions would be the first since Russian President Vladimir Putin said in March that “unfriendly” foreign buyers
would have to pay Gazprom in rubles instead of other currencies.

Poland,and other EU countries, have refused to pay for natural gas in rubles, which Russia is demanding to stabilize and boost its currency in the face of Western sanctions.

European leaders have said requiring ruble payments is a violation of existing contracts with Gazprom.

The “Russian proposal for a two-step payment procedure is in violation with the current contract and bears considerable risks for
Bulgaria, including to make payments without receiving any gas deliveries from Russia,” the Bulgarian government said.

Poland has strongly supported Ukraine and has welcomed the largest number of Ukrainian refugees of any country as well as serving as a transit hub for weapons from Western countries into Ukraine.

Poland imports gas via its Baltic ports and also plans to receive gas from Norway after the 900-kilometer (560-mile) Baltic Pipeline project is completed later this year. Poland hopes Norway will eventually be able to supply roughly half the gas the country needs.

The Yamal pipeline which supplies Poland does not supply Germany.

Germany’s network regulator said it was monitoring the situation and that “the security of supply in Germany is currently guaranteed.”

  • DW