"We're on the edge. We'll have to raise our prices even more. How will people pay for bread?", - said in an interview with France-Presse Valery Krastev, owner of a bakery in the northern city of Montana.
Bulgarian authorities have insisted that the country has an "alternative choice" to Russian gas and that it will not cut supplies to consumers, calling Moscow's move to cut off supplies "blackmail". At the same time, even today Bulgaria pays 10% more for its gas after deliveries for May through an intermediary company, said Energy Minister Alexander Nikolov.
Now the lack of a long-term solution to meet the annual needs of the Balkan EU member in the amount of about 3 billion cubic meters of gas is keeping both local large industrial consumers and small businesses on their toes.
According to the head of the Federation of Industrial Energy Consumers (BFIEK) and top manager of a steel plant in Bulgaria, Konstantin Stamenov, the authorities are only trying to convince citizens that “everything is fine”, but he does not believe that this is really the case. To ensure the supply of energy, the country's government has promised to diversify suppliers. By the end of June, it is planned to complete the construction of another large gas pipeline connecting the gas network of Bulgaria with Greece. This will allow the state gas operator Bulgargaz to agree to increase supplies under the existing contract with Azerbaijan up to 1 cubic meter per year and receive more gas from Greek liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals. However, now the country continues to receive Russian gas.
In April, the republic's government announced that Bulgaria's natural gas reserves would be enough for the next month, after which deliveries would be made through Greece and the EU.