Thursday, January 22, 2009
Bulgaria plans to seek compensation from Gazprom
SOFIA, Jan 22 (Reuters by Tsvetelia Ilieva) - Bulgaria plans to seek compensation from units of Russia's Gazprom (GAZP.MM: Quote, Profile, Research) for losses caused by this month's cut in gas supplies, Economy and Energy Minister Petar Dimitrov said on Thursday. He told parliament the compensation for "direct and indirect" damages would probably be requested by the Bulgarian government, state news agency BTA reported. Under existing contracts, the Balkan country can seek financial and economic compensation from the three distributors, controlled by Gazprom, that deliver gas to Bulgaria, the minister said. Compensation claims have already been sent to one of the intermediaries while claims to the other two were being prepared and would be submitted in the next several days, he said. He did not give any financial or other details. A Gazprom spokesman declined comment. The three companies that import Russian gas to Bulgaria -- one of the countries worst hit in the Moscow-Kiev gas price row that cut supplies to Europe -- are Overgas, Wintershau and Gazpromexport. A spokeswoman for the Bulgarian-registered Overgas, 50-percent owned by Gazprom, said the company had not received any compensation claims so far and refused further comment. Bulgaria, almost fully dependent on Russian gas, was left without any deliveries for 15 days as a result of the cut-off, stemming from a dispute between Gazprom and pipeline transit state Ukraine, which had affected some 20 countries. The disruption left hundred of thousands in Bulgaria without heating in the coldest winter week in early January and forced dozens of factories to shut down production, causing direct company losses of about 200 million levs ($133 million). Russian gas started flowing via Ukraine to the rest of Europe on Tuesday after Moscow and Kiev resolved their dispute.