http://gdb.rferl.org/0a95dd16-c5be-43d5-b4cd-f2b3eada3e97_w203.jpg --> http://gdb.rferl.org/0a95dd16-c5be-43d5-b4cd-f2b3eada3e97_mw800_mh600.jpg
6 January 2006 -- Bulgaria's energy minister says his country rejects an attempt by Russia's Gazprom to raise the price it charges for its gas.
Bulgaria's domestic consumption is almost totally dependent on Russian gas. The country is also a transit route to its neighbors Turkey, Greece, and Macedonia.
Gazprom pays transit fees to Bulgaria in the form of gas priced at around $83 per 1,000 cubic meters. For additional gas, Bulgaria pays $257 dollars per 1,000 cubic meters.
Bulgarian officials say Gazprom is pushing Bulgaria to switch to a system under which it pays transit fees in cash and Bulgaria buys all its gas at market prices.
Energy and economy minister Rumen Ovcharov said today the offer is "unacceptable."
Gazprom officials were not available for comment today, a public holiday in Russia.
A row over gas prices led Russia to cut supplies to Ukraine on 1 January. The dispute was resolved with the signing of a new five-year deal on 4 January.
Click on the map for an enlarged image.
- Ukraine consumes 70 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas per year. It produces 20 bcm of its own gas, has a signed contract to import 40 bcm from Turkmenistan, and in 2005 was getting 29 bcm from Russia as payment for transit of Russian gas.
- Ukraine sells some 7 bcm of gas a year to the West and places some in underground storage facilities. These facilities can hold 34.5 bcm.
Ukraine is the sixth-largest consumer of gas
in the world and uses more gas than Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia combined.
- Russia has proven gas reserves of 47 trillion cubic meters (tcm) -- the largest in the world ahead of Iran and Qatar.
Russia sells approximately 160 bcm to Europe each year.
By 2015, Europe is expected to import 300 bcm, or 40 percent of its projected needs from Russia.
Russia's Gazprom is the world's largest gas company.
It is the only company allowed by Russian law to export gas outside the borders of the CIS. It also owns the gas-transportation system and most of the gas fields in Russia.
The Russian state is Gazprom's majority shareholder
, with a 51 percent share. The company's ownership rights changed as of the beginning of 2006, with Gazprom stock being sold on the open market. The Russian state, however, will continue to hold the majority stake.