Bulgarian natural gas imports at risk

May 27, 2010 at 8:06 PM

SOFIA, Bulgaria, May 27 (UPI) -- A squabble has erupted in Bulgaria between a private and state-owned natural gas company.

Private natural gas supplier Overgas isn't negotiating a new contract with state firm Bulgargaz because it considers the state company a "parasite structure," according to Overgas Chief Executive Officer Sasho Donchev, the Novinte news agency reported Thursday.

Complicating the issue is that Russia's natural gas giant Gazprom owns 50 percent of Overgas.

An annual contract between the two companies for the purchase of 1 billion cubic meters of natural gas expires at the end of this year.

According to Bulgargaz Director Dimitar Gogov, talks with Gazprom have been stalled for the past month. For years the Bulgarian government has underlined the need for direct negotiations with Gazprom to eliminate intermediaries in the natural gas supply chain to lower costs.

This runs counter to the financial interests of Overgas, which is Bulgaria's largest private natural gas company, responsible for delivering about 70 percent of Russia's natural gas sales in Bulgaria.

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