5 Aug 2022 14:49

Only political concessions able to secure gas price cuts for Moldova - Deputy PM Spinu

CHISINAU. Aug 5 (Interfax) - Moldova may secure more favorable prices for Russian gas only if political concessions are made, Moldovan Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Infrastructure and Regional Development Andrei Spinu said.

"Do you think something will change if we visit Moscow even ten times, even if [Moldovan] President Maia Sandu goes there, or if I or anyone else go there ten times more? Something will change only if there are certain demands. And I want to ask those who are watching us to what extent they are ready to make certain concessions. Indeed, it will be a difficult winter. Indeed, for the past 30 years the country has not been prepared for this fight for energy independence. I have said several times that we are the only country that is 100% dependent on one supplier of both gas and electricity. I think that we will cope with it. And we are now taking the right measures to change this situation within the next few years," Spinu said in televised remarks on Friday.

When assessing the contract signed between Moldovagaz and Russia's Gazprom last October, Spinu said that he views it as "profitable for Moldova".

"The contract is good, maybe with a few exceptions, which could be discussed with the Russian company," the deputy prime minister said.

"In four years' time, Moldova will fully diversify its energy consumption, considerably enhancing its energy security. All the steps that we are now taking in Moldova's energy sector should have been taken earlier," he said.

Moldova will diversify its energy imports within the next three years, Spinu said.

"We have power lines with Ukraine in order to receive electricity. There is a 110kW power line with Romania, and a new 400 kW one," Spinu said, adding that Moldova is not currently importing electricity from Romania because it is more expensive.

When asked why Moldova is not operating the Iasi-Chisinau gas pipeline, the deputy prime minister said that this pipeline will be used when Moldova starts buying gas from Romania and from other alternative suppliers.

He confirmed that over the upcoming winter season, Moldova intends to cut gas use by 15%. The authorities are preparing for different scenarios if Gazprom reduces gas deliveries or stops them altogether, he added.

"In this context, we are considering three scenarios: a 35% reduction in gas deliveries, a 50% reduction and the termination of the contract with Gazprom. We want the current contract to be preserved, but we should take certain risks into consideration as well. In any case, I want to assure everyone that Moldova will not be left without gas. It's all about the price, but there will be gas - if not from Gazprom then from alternative sources," the deputy prime minister said.

Meanwhile, the authorities of Gagauzia, an autonomous region of Moldova, have called on the Moldovan authorities to try to secure gas price cuts. According to local media outlets, this issue was discussed on Friday at a meeting between Moldovan Minister of Agriculture and Food Vladimir Bolea and the autonomous region's leadership.

"Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Spinu's talks with Gazprom are not enough to resolve the problems of the energy sector and to emerge from the difficult situation in which Moldova is now. The prime minister and the president should join this process," Gagauzia head Irina Vlah said.

Vlah criticized the Moldovan authorities of complaining about the energy crisis but still refusing to join talks on gas deliveries to Moldova.

"The country's leaders must do not what they want, but what they need to do. It is necessary to put everything else aside, and the first problem that must be resolved is to reach an agreement with Russia and to set a normal, real price for gas. Then the prices of a large number of food products will decrease. If there is this willingness, I think we will reach an agreement, because our partners are open to it," she said.

The participants in the meeting also noted that "the current gas prices totally deprive Moldovan products of any competitive edge."