Moldova moots energy unbundling deferral
London, 2 October (Argus) — Moldova is looking for a compromise between its current commitments to the EU and its hopes to win a discount on its Russian natural gas imports.
Moldova will ask the European Commission for permission to delay implementation of the EU's third package of energy market reforms until 2020, the country's prime minister Vlad Filat said on 29 September in Kishinev. Moldova is not an EU member but the Energy Community Treaty (ECT) signed with the EU in 2010 obliges it to adopt the second and third energy packages by the end of 2015.
In the EU, the third package — which obliges member states to ensure that the business of transmitting energy is unbundled from the business of producing or supplying it — came into force in March this year, except where a third-country company owns a transmission system, in which case the deadline is March 2013.
Moldova's delay is needed to secure a discount to the current gas import price, Filat said following a meeting with Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev in Yalta.
The government wants a 30pc discount on the $400/'000m³ that it pays Gazprom but Russia, the only gas supplier to the country, is only prepared to cut prices if Moldova withdraws from its commitment to adopt the third package.
The third package's unbundling obligations are a sensitive issue for Gazprom, which holds 50pc of Moldova's gas distributor and pipeline operator Moldovagaz, and would like to own the firm outright. Moldovagaz can handle 30bn m³/yr of gas transit to Europe through Ukraine.
Filat insists that a delay to third package implementation until 2020 would help Moldova restructure Moldovagaz in a way that could help Gazprom save its investment in the company.
The current gas supply and transit agreements between Gazprom and Moldovagaz expire late this year, meaning that the countries have only a few months to agree on a compromise.
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