SOFIA (Reuters) – Bulgaria has paid for Russian gas deliveries for April and supplier Gazprom will be in breach of its current contract if it halts the flow, energy minister Alexander Nikolov told reporters on Wednesday.
Sofia would soon know if gas received via Turkey would be stopped, Nikolov said following Gazprom’s advice to Bulgarian state gas company Bulgargaz it would halt supplies as of Wednesday.
He said EU and NATO member Bulgaria would observe the European Commission’s stance urging countries not to pay for Russian gas in roubles, which Russian President Vladimir Putin is demanding.
“Because all trade and legal obligations are being observed, it is clear that at the moment the natural gas is being used more as a political and economic weapon in the current war,” Nikolov said.
The Balkan country meets more than 90% of its gas needs with supplies from Russia under a long-term contract that will expire at the end of this year. Nikolov said gas deliveries to consumers were still guaranteed for at least a month.
Bulgaria also transports Russian gas via an extension of the Turk Stream pipeline to neighbouring Serbia and from there to Hungary. Nikolov said Sofia would review all of its current contracts with Gazprom.
“Bulgaria is a loyal partner to all neighbouring countries. Bulgaria is not Russia. When we can, we will help all of our neighbours,” he said.
(Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova, writing by Krisztina Than; editing by Jason Neely and Bradley Perrett)