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PM Petkov: Two Shiploads of US Gas Expected in Bulgaria on June 8 and 23

Prime Minister Kiril Petkov said two US gas tankers are headed to Bulgaria and are expected to arrive on June 8 and 23. The government had to find an alternative quickly when Russia’s Gazprom cut off gas deliveries to this country on April 27 and a review of the options showed that the gas price on the US market was a quarter of the price in Europe, he told Nova TV on Sunday.
The two shiploads of liquefied natural gas from the US were contracted directly with a US company during Petkov’s working visit to Washington on May 9 and 10.
The US gas deliveries come at a lower price which, in the final analysis, should be equivalent to the price of Gazprom supplies, said Petkov. Azeri gas has also been contracted and will be delivered on July 1, regardless of whether the Greece-Bulgaria interconnector is completed. “I want to prove that Bulgaria is not dependent and that no one can twist its arms,” he said.
Speaking on the Bulgarian National Television (BNT) earlier on Sunday, the Prime Minister’s Chef de Cabinet, Lena Borislavova, said that the Azeri gas is priced at EUR 25-26, whereas the current price in Europe is EUR 90.
She said that Bulgaria needs between “12 and 20 tankers of gas per year to guarantee supplies”. Negotiations are underway on medium- and long-term gas supplies “at prices three or four times lower than the last agreed prices with Gazprom”. Options are being sought for gas supplies from Turkmenistan, Egypt, Turkey and elsewhere, Borislavova said. The long-term gas agreements will be signed directly with the suppliers, without any intermediaries. 
Borislavova also said that at the moment, no economic or legal considerations could lead to a nationalization of strategic facilities such as the LUKoil Neftochim refinery of Burgas (on the Black Sea). 
In a related development, Bulgartransgaz Executive Director Vladimir Malinov said that Bulgaria has started talks with Turkey for gas supplies through its territory. After visiting the Chiren gas storage facility on Sunday, Malinov told BNT that Bulgartransgaz expects to be able to fill it up by the autumn from the current 21% of its capacity – a normal volume for this time of the year. Some one million cubic metres of gas are fed to the facility daily. Malinov also said that Bulgaria is not going to suspend the transiting of Russian gas via its territory to Serbia and Hungary.
Sources of political tension
Commenting on criticisms of the government, Petkov said most people realize that holding elections now, during a war, would be not just pointless, but detrimental. “The truth is that we are coping, seeing that we agreed a lower gas price in three days. This government is gaining speed and people should calm down,” he told Nova TV.
He also said he had talked with the office of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen about an exemption from a possible EU-wide ban on Russian oil imports. 
Petkov said political tension was coming from several groups. 
Some people stole money in the past and want the government to fall before they are caught by the European Public Prosecutor’s Office, which will take eight months at most, said Petkov. There are also those involved in energy projects, who made money through gas contracts and are well-heeled. People defending Russian energy interests are also fuelling tension.
The Prime Minister said Bulgaria’s foreign partners expect the war in Ukraine to last several years, and called for unity. “I believe this is the right government, which will take us through this period,” he said.
Sofia-Skopje relations
Commenting on Bulgaria’s talks with the Republic of North Macedonia, Petkov said: “Everybody is trying to sell the idea of compromises. Everybody knows that North Macedonia must eventually join the EU, and everybody knows that the rights of Bulgarians [in North Macedonia] must be protected. The point is to get rid of the political rhetoric and work.”