7 Sep 2023 13:40

Moldovagaz CEO: $8.6 mln debt to Gazprom raises eyebrows

CHISINAU. Sept 7 (Interfax) - The CEO of Moldovagaz is surprised by the $8.6 million that the Moldovan authorities want to pay Gazprom as debt for gas.

"A detailed written opinion by JSC Moldovagaz on the external audit of the debt to PJSC Gazprom will be presented later. So far the publicly announced figure of $8.6 million raises eyebrows; the documented historic and current gas debt that [heat providers] JSC Thermoelectrica and JSC CHP-Nord alone owe Moldovagaz is $46 million," Vadim Ceban said on Telegram.

Moldovan Energy Minister Victor Parlicov said earlier that a comprehensive audit had shown Moldova owes Gazprom $8.6 million. "This is the result of more complex calculations related to both debt and claims that we can make against Gazprom," Parlicov told a press conference, explaining where the $8.6 million came from.

Parlicov said the audit had uncovered issues with the distribution of gas transit revenue, as well as the Russian company's failure to honor its obligations to supply gas to Moldova after it reduced them to 5.7 million cubic meters per day in the autumn of 2022.

Moldova's debt for gas became a controversial topic in relation to Moldova and Gazprom in 2021. According to the audit published by Moldova, Moldovagaz's recorded debt to Gazprom was $757 million as of October 31, 2021, when the current five-year gas supply agreement was signed.

The authorities said they would only recognize an exact debt amount following an independent international audit, which Chisinau hired Wikborg Rein Advokatfirma AS and Forensic Risk Alliance &Co to perform.

Parlicov said auditors were unable to obtain documents confirming the debts of more than $700 million. "This does not mean that they do not exist. Maybe Gazprom has them somewhere, but they were not made available," he said.

Gazprom maintains that the sum of Moldova's debt for gas has been confirmed by bilateral documents from both the supplier and the buyer, as well as commercial arbitration decisions.

"The auditor's report was not approved by the Moldovagaz supervisory board, as stipulated by agreements between Gazprom and the Moldovan government. In any case, as we already noted, the auditor and the terms of the tender for the purchase of the company's services were unilaterally determined by Moldova without agreement from Gazprom and Moldovagaz," Gazprom said.

"The auditor's conclusions cannot in any way influence the size and validity of the specified debt, especially since it is confirmed in the documents regularly signed by Gazprom and Moldovagaz and in the relevant decisions of international arbitration," the Russian company said. The Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry's International Commercial Arbitration Court heard disputes between Gazprom and Moldovagaz.

"Gazprom categorically disagrees with the statements of the Moldovan side and intends to continue to defend its rights in every possible way," the company said.