Russia Stops Supplying Poland, Bulgaria with Natural Gas

In response to sanctions by Europe and the US, Russia has cut off natural gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria.

A section of the Yamal-Europe pipeline during winter. Credit: Arab media

In response to sanctions by Europe and the US, Russia has cut off natural gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria.

Russian state energy giant Gazprom said in a statement that it had fully halted supplies to Polish gas company PGNiG and Bulgaria’s Bulgargaz after they refused to meet a demand by Moscow to pay in roubles, rather than euros or dollars.

PGNiG confirmed on Wednesday that it was no longer receiving Russian gas through the Yamal pipeline and accused Gazprom of a breach of contract. It said that it was able to meet its customers’ demand for gas, despite the “cessation of deliveries.”

Bulgaria’s energy ministry said in a statement that paying in roubles was unacceptable and that Bulgargaz had “fully fulfilled its obligations and has made all payments required under this contract in a timely manner, diligently and in accordance with its provisions.”

The news sent US natural gas prices up about 3% on Tuesday. European gas prices jumped more than 20% on Wednesday morning before dropping back.

Russia delivered an ultimatum last month to “unfriendly” nations that they must pay for their energy in roubles starting April 1 or risk being cut off from vital supplies. But the flow of gas had continued until Wednesday.

The Russian government said that payments for gas being delivered at the time of its announcement would be due toward the end of April or the beginning of May, which is why Russia didn’t immediately shut off the flow of gas to Europe.

President Vladimir Putin’s high-stakes threat sent shockwaves through Europe, which cannot keep its economy running for long without Russian energy. Moscow sent a clear signal that it could at some point reduce natural gas flows.

Poland and Bulgaria said they had been preparing for the possibility of Russian action, and that supplies to businesses and households were unaffected.

“At present, no restrictive measures have been imposed on gas consumption in Bulgaria,” the energy ministry added.

PGNiG said it had made preparations to obtain gas from various sources, including through gas connections on its western and southern borders and an LNG terminal in the northwest port city of Świnoujście.

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

Poland’s Climate Minister Anna Moskwa said Tuesday that there would be no shortage of gas in Poland despite the Russian halt of exports. “Poland has the necessary gas reserves and sources of supply that protect our security — we have been effectively independent of Russia for years,” she said in a tweet.

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