SOFIA, March 5 Bulgaria, almost fully dependent
on Russian gas imports through Ukraine, has started to build up
its gas stocks to prepare for a potential disruption of
supplies, its prime minister said on Wednesday.
Plamen Oresharski said however that he did not expect
supplies to be cut while Ukraine's dues to Russia's Gazprom
are being paid and noted they were far smaller than in
2009, when Moscow shut off gas in a price row with Kiev.
Bulgaria is reviewing its existing gas and oil reserves and
seeking alternatives to cope with any worsening of the Ukraine
crisis, the government said on Tuesday.
"For the time being, we do not have serious reasons to
expect a cut in the gas supplies", Oresharski told parliament.
More than 85 percent of the Balkan country's gas needs are
met by Gazprom imports via a single route through Ukraine.
The European Union member has not yet connected its network
with any of its neighbours, despite its declared will to
diversify routes and suppliers.
"We are building up gas stocks so that if we have a
potential, I undeline, potential cut in gas supplies, we can use
the storage for about month and a half after we rationalise
supplies within the country," Oresharski said.
Despite a mild winter, Bulgaria may still be forced to limit
gas consumption to industry as the gas that can be pumped daily
from the country's sole storage facility is only half the
Bulgaria could also look to import gas through Greece, but
that option would be too costly, Oresharski said.