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Blast Hits Major Russian Gas Pipeline To Balkans

CHISINAU/SOFIA, April 1 (Reuters) -- Russian gas supplies are still flowing to Bulgaria, a top official at state gas monopoly Bulgargaz says, after a blast on a major pipeline in Moldova that delivers gas to the Balkans.

A Moldovan government spokesman said the blast had occurred in Moldova's separatist region of Transdniester, but could not confirm a report by Russia's ITAR-TAS news agency that all transit supplies had been suspended.

"I can confirm there was an explosion on a gas pipeline near [the separatist capital of] Tiraspol, spokesman Vitalie Condratchi said.

"Prime Minister Zinaida Greceanii is convening a meeting of the state emergencies committee...There is no talk of terrorism," he said.

Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom declined immediate comment.

Bulgaria's Bulgargaz chief executive Dimitar Gogov told Reuters the country was getting Russian gas via alternative pipelines despite the blast.

"[Deliveries to Bulgaria have not been reduced] -- neither in terms of pressure, nor of quantity," Gogov said.

The pipeline supplies most of the gas needs of Bulgaria, Romania, and also serves part of Turkey's needs. Bulgaria gets around 3 billion cubic metres (bcm) a year, Romania around 4.5 bcm, and Turkey, which consumes around 24 bcm a year, gets part of its supplies via the route.