Is Bulgaria suffering losses as a result of contract with the Turkish gas company Botas?

23:41, 11.04.2024
Is Bulgaria suffering losses as a result of contract with the Turkish gas company Botas?

MPs insist on the renegotiation of the contract between the Bulgarian state-owned natural gas supplier Bulgargaz and Turkish energy company Botas. This is stated in the final report of the ad hoc committee of inquiry into the deal between the two companies. “We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria” (WCC-DB) insist that the collected data should also be sent to the State Agency for National Security (SANS) and the Prosecutor's office for a check. The coalition estimates that Bulgaria is obliged to pay nearly 500,000 US dollars a day to the Turkish energy company Botas for gas capacity which remains largely unused. Separately, the amount owed by Bulgargaz to Botas for the year amounts to 178 million US dollars. Bulgargaz has not commented so far.

The agreement between Bulgargaz and Botas is for 13 years. It cannot be terminated early by the Bulgarian side unless we pay the full amount of the contract, namely USD 2.2 billion.

Radoslav Rybarski, WCC-DB: "Things look quite worrying, it turns out that every day the Bulgarian energy sector, and Bulgargaz in particular, has to pay for capacity that is equivalent to 500,000 US dollars, but this capacity is not used every day."

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The committee’s report, which is available to BNT, says that in fact Bulgargaz and Bulgartransgaz will not have access to the Turkish gas system, as was previously claimed. In fact, the Bulgarian side will be able to receive natural gas volumes from Turkey in exchange for gas delivered to Turkish terminals. Last year only 10% of the possible capacity was used, but Bulgaria paid for the full capacity.

Borislav Gutsanov, "BSP for Bulgaria": "Now everyone has united that this is a shameful treaty for Bulgaria, an enslaving treaty for Bulgaria. At the moment we are all paying 486,000 euros regardless of whether we use this gas coming through Botas or not. A complete disgrace that happened during the caretaker government."

We asked for a comment from the former caretaker Minister of Energy from the "Donev" cabinet, Rosen Hristov, but he was not available. Therefore, we recall the explanation he made in the BNT programme "More from the day" from 20 October 2023, after the beginning of the inspections .

Is it true that Bulgaria is obliged to pay BGN 3.8 billion by 2035 even if it does not use the capacities? - I cannot comment on the figures. - Why, did you sign them? - Every single thing that is booked - capacity, hotel, plane ticket, the costs incurred ...and we owe money, if we do not fulfil our commitments, we owe penalties. The contract with Greece - we owe much bigger penalties there. - Are you now guaranteeing that the contract that has been concluded is entirely in Bulgaria's favour? - The contract that has been concluded is entirely in Bulgaria's favour."

According to the report, an attempt was made to renegotiate the terms by the next Energy Minister, Rumen Radev, but there is no information on the outcome. According to the data summarised by the committee, the total amount Bulgargaz must pay if the contract is not changed is nearly $2.2 billion by 2035.

BSP for Bulgaria believes that it is difficult to renegotiate the contract. They will propose that the Bulgargaz directors, who work in the company now, be dismissed. Bulgargaz told BNT that they had not yet received the report and could not give a statement on it.

Borislav Gutsanov, BSP for Bulgaria: "The contract has not been coordinated with the Council of Ministers, only eight ministers have signed it, which in practice makes this act illegitimate. The then caretaker minister signed the contract with Botas before the director of Bulgargaz, which also raises a very serious question - why this thing was done."

However, a check in the legal system of the Council of Ministers showed that the contract was discussed at the Council of Ministers and adopted on 11 January 2023. However, it is not clear why it was signed first by the minister and then by the head of public supplier Bulgargaz. The report is expected to be presented in plenary chamber next week, with the WCC-DB insisting that its results be given to the Prosecutor's office and the State Agency for National Security (SANS). The European Commission also launched a probe into the case last year.

Bulgaria’s public supplier "Bulgargaz" signs agreement for access to Turkish LNG terminals

EC has sent questions to Bulgargaz about the deal with the Turkish gas company Botas

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