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Bulgaria estimates its losses from recent cuts in Russian gas supplies
Bulgaria estimates its losses from recent cuts in Russian gas supplies at about $320 million and is demanding compensation from Russia's Gazprom, the country's economy and energy ministry said on Friday.

"Economy and Energy Minister Petar Dimitrov handed Gazprom's deputy CEO Alexander Medvedev an official request during talks in Sofia, insisting that Bulgaria be compensated for the crisis caused by cuts in gas supplies [from Russia]," the ministry said in a statement.

"As a result of unprecedented cuts in supplies of natural gas on January 6, 2009, the Bulgarian economy suffered enormous losses. Current estimates are at 500 million leva [$327 million]," the document said.

Russia suspended supplies to Ukraine on January 1 after the former Soviet neighbors failed to reach an agreement on a new gas contract for 2009. A week later, Gazprom cut off gas deliveries to the European Union, saying Ukraine was stealing gas intended for EU consumers.

Gazprom resumed supplies to Europe on January 20 following the signing of a new contract with Ukrainian energy company Naftogaz on Russian gas supplies to Ukraine for 2009-2019.

According to the Bulgarian ministry, 123.8 million cu m of gas were not supplied to Bulgaria during the crisis.

Bulgaria listed three possible ways of compensation: to pay direct damages, supply the lost gas at preferential prices, or to allow Bulgaria to transport gas from third countries via Russian pipelines without paying transit fees.

"The future of relations between Bulgaria and Russia depends on restoring trust in Gazprom," the ministry said.

Alexander Medvedev announced during talks in Sofia that Gazprom would fulfill all its contractual obligations with Bulgaria and would provide the Balkan country with additional supplies to restore the lost supplies at preferential prices, rather than pay compensation.

Bulgaria has yet to respond.


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