Bulgaria increases natural gas price by 30.4%

SOFIA, January 1 (Reuters) – The Bulgarian energy regulator on Saturday approved a 30.4% increase in the wholesale price of natural gas for this month at the request of Bulgargaz, the main gas and public utility in the Balkans.

Natural gas prices in Europe have risen sharply over the past year, adding to inflationary pressures and endangering consumer confidence.

The regulator set the gas price at 133.4 levs ($ 77.60) per MWh in January before transportation costs and taxes of 102.3 levs in December.

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Bulgargaz said the price for Bulgarian consumers would still be around 35% below prices at European gas hubs as the company hedges its gas mix under a long-term hybrid contract with Russian Gazprom and an oil-indexed contract with Azerbaijani SOCAR.

The energy regulator said the increase is likely to put pressure on natural gas-dependent heating utilities after parliament froze electricity and heat prices through the end of March. Continue reading

She urged the new center government to start its state aid to help heat utilities cope with higher gas prices. Continue reading

Bulgaria imports about 3 billion cubic meters (billion cubic meters) of gas annually, mainly from Russia’s Gazprom. Smaller quantities of gas are also imported from Azerbaijan. Bulgargaz said in a separate statement that it had enough natural gas on hand to meet the increased demand until the end of March.

($ 1 = 1.7193 Leva)

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Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova.

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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