16 Jul 2019 18:30

Moldovan president to go to Moscow to clear candidacy for Moldovagaz head, ask for discount

CHISINAU. July 16 (Interfax) - Moldovan President Igor Dodon will travel to Moscow on Wednesday to clear a candidacy for the post of director of the Moldovan-Russian company Moldovagaz and discuss a possible discount on gas that the country receives from Russia.

Dodon said on Facebook on Tuesday that he had a working meeting with Economy and Infrastructure Minister Vadim Brinzan and candidate for Moldovagaz chief Vadim Ceban.

"We discussed the most important factors of the efficient functioning of the system of supplying gas to consumers and the most urgent goals facing the new management of Moldovagaz. There is some information on various fraud schemes applied in the energy system as a whole and in Moldovagaz's structure in particular. They have a significant effect on domestic expenditures and indirectly on the gas tariffs," Dodon said.

The president called for taking immediate action to eliminate these schemes so as "to determine internal reserves for lowering the costs within the framework of this strategic enterprise for the country."

"I am convinced that these reserves can be discovered, which would help lower the pressure on the tariffs for end users," he said.

The discussion of the tariffs is relevant both in light of the increase in the import price for natural gas and considering "the irresponsible populistic policy by the energy market regulator, the National Energy Regulatory Agency (ANRE)," he said.

"Brinzan informed me of details of energy companies' requests for ANRE on increasing the tariffs for end users. The principal reason for such requests is the growth in the import price for natural gas. Against this background, the need to initiate negotiations with the supplier of natural gas to have a discount is obvious," Dodon said.

He said in this context that he would go to Moscow on a brief working visit to discuss various matters, including a possible discount on the gas price for Moldova.

"We will discuss the matter with Gazprom's management as well. If we could reach a consensus, this would help us avoid a significant increase in gas tariffs. During the discussion, we pointed to the need to start negotiations with Russia on concluding a new contract for gas delivery and transport to become effective as of January 1, 2020. The record of the past years shows that a delay in this process could jeopardize the country's energy security, especially during the cold season," he said.

The statute of Moldovagaz stipulates that its director shall be appointed by the Moldovan government and cleared with Gazprom, as both parties are its stakeholders. The former director, Vasile Botnari, stepped down in May 2018 after being appointed director of the Moldovan Information and Security Service. No new Moldovagaz director has still been appointed.

Gazprom shipped 2.9 billion cubic meters of gas to Moldova in 2018, which is 7.4% more than in 2017 (2.7 billion cubic meters).

The contracts between Gazprom and Moldovagaz on the shipment of gas to Moldovan consumers and on gas transport across Moldova's territory will remain valid until the end of 2019.