Bulgaria offers electricity-for-gas exchange to Azerbaijan

Bulgaria offers electricity-for-gas exchange to Azerbaijan
Bulgarian government officials on a visit to Azerbaijan, as Sofia seeks to increase energy security. / mi.government.bg
By bne IntelliNews September 12, 2022

Bulgaria is offering to export electricity to Azerbaijan in exchange for more natural gas, caretaker Economy Minister Nikola Stoyanov said as quoted by public broadcaster BNT late on September 11 during a visit to Baku.

Azerbaijan is already supplying 1bn cubic metres (bcm) of natural gas per year to Bulgaria and has said it could double that amount.

However, after refusing to buy six out of seven tankers of US liquified natural gas (LNG) arranged by the previous government, the caretaker government of Prime Minister Gulub Donev has not been able to provide enough natural gas for the winter months ahead.

Interim Energy Minister Rosen Hristov has said that negotiations with Gazprom on the restoration of supplies are now inevitable. However, his efforts seem unsuccessful for the moment.

Stoyanov has said that the country will seek to double the import of natural gas from Azerbaijan after 2026 and to receive more gas this winter in exchange for electricity.

“There is such possibility, it was confirmed to me in principle – if we can provide them with electricity, they could give us the gas they would save [from not producing electricity],” Stoyanov said.

Bulgaria produces electricity from various sources, including coal-fired, nuclear and hydropower plants, while Azerbaijan uses only natural gas. Stoyanov said that such a barter could help the country secure more gas for the winter months.

Stoyanov also said that Bulgaria is in negotiations with Gazprom, which stopped supplies at the end of April. Sofia hopes to persuade the Russian company to deliver the quantities agreed in the current contract that expires at the end of the year.

Meanwhile, Bulgaria’s state-owned gas supplier Bulgargaz has asked to lower the price of natural gas for October by 30%, after the price was increased by 19% for September. The lower cost of the gas for next month comes thanks to the gas from Azerbaijan and one US tanker of LNG the caretaker government has acquired.

The previous government of Kiril Petkov had agreed seven tankers would be supplied in the autumn and winter, but the caretaker cabinet had to secure slots for their unloading. Donev’s government said the slots were too expensive or unavailable despite statements by Greece it can provide cheap ones.

For October, Bulgargaz is asking the state energy and water regulation body, KEVR, to lower the price to BGN247.96 (€126.8) per MWh, down from BGN353.63 per MWh in September. However, the price proposed for November is higher at BGN278.83 per MWh. This price is based on projections for the market value of the natural gas.