Moldova introduces free gas transit to Ukraine for winter supplies

(Reuters) - Moldovan authorities have enacted regulations calling for free transport of European gas to and from storage facilities in neighboring Ukraine to ensure the country's winter needs are met.

The Commission on Emergency Regulations called on Moldova's gas transport system regulator late on Wednesday to provide shipment of European-sourced gas free of charge to storage areas through four points on the Ukraine-Moldova border.

With Moldova subject to a state of emergency since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022 - and renewed every 60 days - the commission's decisions must be implemented by law.

The commission said transporter VestMoldTransGaz was obliged to act in order to ensure sufficient winter supplies. The company is owned 75% by Romania's TransGaz, with the remainder held by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development .

Alexandru Slusar, a board member of Energocom, the company securing European gas for Moldova, told Reuters the ruling was aimed at reducing costs of imports as well as consumer prices.

"As gas transport costs $60-70 per 1,000 cubic meters and it has to cross Moldovan territory twice, the government is ordering the gas transport operator to provide a 100 percent discount."

Sergiu Tofilat, a board member of the Moldovagaz company, which distributes gas sourced from Russia, said the country needed to buy at least 400 million cubic meters (mcm) for the coming winter.

"Consumption in the cold period is about 800-900 mcm and Energocom has bought more than 400 mcm of that. So we are talking about transporting about half a billion cubic meters, with the government setting a 100 percent discount."

Moldova has not used Russian gas since late last year but is keeping open the option of buying from Gazprom if conditions are right, Moldovagaz head Vadim Ceban said this week.

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