Russia’s Gazprom cuts gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria

Russian energy giant Gazprom said in a statement wednesday that it had completely halted deliveries to Polish gas company PGNiG and Bulgarian Bulgargaz after refusing to respond to a request from Moscow to pay in rubles, rather than euros or dollars.
The European Commission described the decision to halt supplies as an attempt at “blackmail” and said it was coordinating a response between EU member states.

“Europeans can be sure that we remain united and in full solidarity with the Member States affected in the face of this new challenge. Europeans can count on our full support,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement. a statement.

PGNiG confirmed on Wednesday that it was no longer receiving Russian gas through the Yamal pipeline and accused Gazprom of breach of contract. He said he was able to meet his customers’ gas demand, despite “the stoppage of deliveries”.

Bulgaria’s energy ministry said in a statement that paying in rubles was unacceptable and that Bulgargaz had “fully fulfilled its obligations and made all payments required under this contract in a timely, diligent and consistent manner.” “.

The news sent U.S. natural gas futures up about 3% on Tuesday. European gas prices jumped more than 20% on Wednesday morning before falling back.

Last month, Russia issued an ultimatum to “unfriendly” countries that they must pay for their energy in rubles from April 1 or risk being cut off from vital supplies. But the flow of gas had continued until Wednesday.

The Kremlin said payments for gas delivered at the time of its announcement would be due around the end of April or the beginning of May, which is why Russia did not immediately cut off the flow of gas to Europe.

The high-stakes threat from President Vladimir Putin has sent shockwaves through Europe, which cannot run its economy for long without Russian energy. Moscow has sent a clear signal that it may at some point reduce natural gas flows.

“Gazprom’s announcement of a unilateral halt in gas delivery to customers in Europe is yet another attempt by Russia to use gas as an instrument of blackmail,” von der Leyen said. “It is unjustified and unacceptable.”

EU member states met on Wednesday to coordinate their response. Von der Leyen said after the meeting that Poland and Bulgaria now receive gas from their EU neighbors. The European Union will continue its work to ensure sufficient supply and storage in the medium term, including liquefied natural gas from the United States and other partners, she added.

“Today the Kremlin has again failed in this attempt to sow division among Europeans. The era of Russian fossil fuels in Europe will come to an end,” she said.

No shortage yet

Poland and Bulgaria said they had prepared for the possibility of Russian action and that supplies for businesses and households were not affected.

“At present, no restrictive measure has been imposed on gas consumption in Bulgaria,” added the Energy Ministry.

PGNiG said it has made preparations to obtain gas from various sources, including via gas connections on its western and southern borders and an LNG terminal in the northwestern port town of Swinoujscie.

It also said its underground gas storage facilities were nearly 80% full.

“The balance sheet is completed by national gas production and fuel reserves accumulated in underground gas storage facilities. Currently, the filling level of the warehouses is around 80% and is significantly higher than in the corresponding period of previous years,” he added.

Polish Climate Minister Anna Moskwa said on Tuesday that there would be no shortage of gas in Poland despite the halt in Russian exports.

“Poland has the necessary gas reserves and sources of supply that protect our security – we have been effectively independent from Russia for years,” she said in a tweet.

“There will be no shortage of gas in Polish homes,” the minister wrote.

– CNN’s Anna Odzeniak, Amy Cassidy, James Frater, Uliana Pavlova, Josh Pennington and Angela Dewan contributed to this report

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