Moldova runs out of cash to pay Gazprom’s August bill

Moldovagaz director Vadim Ceban during a company meeting on May 31, 2022. Photo: Moldovagaz Facebook page

Moldova will not be able to meet its August payment obligations for Gazprom gas, Moldovagaz director Vadim Ceban told BIRN on Thursday.

“We hope that we can obtain an extension of the payment deadline. The deadline is August 20, but I think we can also pay on August 22,” Ceban told BIRN.

He said there was money for the July bill but not for the advance to be paid to Gazprom in August. “The invoice to Gazprom for the month of August is 18 million dollars. We managed to raise $14 million for July,” Ceban said.

Moldovagaz is a subsidiary of the Russian energy giant, which holds a majority stake. The Moldovan state holds 35.5% of the shares.

Ceban said he asked Gazprom for a payment extension for the August down payment but received no response.

“I don’t see how we can ask for a price increase for consumers. In this situation… the only thing that can help us at the moment is respite and postponement of payment,” Ceban said.

Ceban also called on the Moldovan authorities to postpone the payment of VAT.

Previously, Moldovagaz requested an increase in the tariff to 29.48 lei [about 1.5 euros] per cubic meter of gas, citing the fact that in August the purchase price of gas was 1,458 US dollars per thousand cubic meters, and in September it could reach 1,692 dollars.

On August 4, the National Energy Regulatory Agency, ANRE, approved a slight increase in prices for consumers from 18.62 lei to 23 lei [1.2 euros] per cubic meter.

Gazprom has previously warned that it will not make concessions to Moldova, and that if the payment deadline is missed, it will stop deliveries within 48 hours.

Moldova’s Public Property Agency, APP, has engaged independent financial services to audit Moldovagaz’s debt to Gazprom, choosing Wikborg Rein Advokatfirma AS from Norway and Forensic Risk Alliance & Co from Britain on Wednesday. “Both companies are committed to auditing the debts of the gas delivered to Moldova by January 30, 2023,” APP said.

The Moldovagaz boss told BIRN that he was not involved in the selection of audit companies. “The audit could be done in six months, by January 23, 2023. I think these companies can fall within that time frame. We hope it will succeed, but that remains to be seen,” he concluded.

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