Gazprom record export /

Serbia has become a gas transit country since October under contracts with Russia and as a result of the construction of the Balkan Stream gas pipeline. Fot.: Gazprom.

By Martin Chomksy

Serbia has become a transit country for Russian gas as of October following accession to contracts with Russia and the construction of the Balkan Stream gas pipeline.

“We have upgraded all stations on the Khorgos-Belgrade section, having solved all the problems. Since 1 October, we are a transit country, supplying gas to Hungary, and we take 6.3 to 8 million cubic metres of raw material for ourselves every day. At the moment, we about 250 million cubic meters of our gas in storage (while yearly demand stands at 1.4 billion cubic metres – editor’s note),” said president of Serbia Alexandar Vucic. In his opinion, Belgrade was successful in its efforts to build the Balkan Stream and sign long-term contracts. “Serbia has the lowest electricity price for households in Europe,” he emphasised.

As of 1 October, Gazprom began gas supplies to Hungary under a long-term contract signed on 27 September. The raw material bypasses Ukraine and reaches the end customer through the Balkan Stream (extension of the Turkish Stream through Bulgaria and Serbia) and pipelines in South-Eastern Europe. The installation is designed to deliver up to 4.5 bcm annually for 15 years.

We need to remember that Gazprom cut off gas supplies to European customers (including those with long-term contracts) 11 years ago, in January 2010. For Russians, this was a way of forcing Yulia Timoshenko’s government to sign a deal unfavourable to Ukraine.

The gas weapon worked, and among the worst affected were Serbia and Bulgaria. In the latter country, which at that time was completely dependent on Russian gas, everything came to a standstill for a fortnight – offices, factories, institutions. Heating stopped working in flats, hospitals, schools, kindergartens. Bulgaria’s losses were so great that Gazprom agreed to pay Sofia compensation of around USD 250 million. Today, Bulgaria has reduced its reliance on Russian gas to around two-thirds.

Serbia is still buying all the gas it needs from Gazprom. As a reward, it will also make a profit from transit.