bne IntelliNews – Gazprom tries once again to force Moldova to pay Transnistria’s gas bill
Gazprom initiated another lawsuit – on the 16th – against its own subsidiary Moldovagaz at the International Court of Arbitration of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Moscow, in connection with the natural gas bill of 370.5 million euros. dollars for the year 2018.
All unpaid invoices sent by Gazprom to Moldovagaz in Chisinau relate to gas delivered to the breakaway Moldovan republic of Transnistria, although Moldova itself sometimes pays its own invoices with some delay. Indeed, the gas deliveries – which Moldovagaz should foot the bill for – are a form of Russian aid to the separatist region backed by Moscow.
President Maia Sandu made it clear that it is not about Moldova’s debt and that the debtor (Moldovagaz) has to settle the issues with the parent company on his own.
Gazprom owns 50% of Moldovagaz, the Moldovan government 35% and the Transnistrian authorities just over 13%.
Gazprom’s claims against Moldovagaz, which the company and Russian authorities sometimes ambiguously call âthe debt of the Republic of Moldovaâ, reached 508.62 billion rubles ($ 6.88 billion) at the end of 2020, according to the reports. financial statements of the Russian company. The unpaid gas bill was $ 220 million in 2020. Gazprom has been sending annual bills for unpaid gas since 2007.
The receivables, classified by Gazprom under IFRS as “expected loss on loans“, represent gas transferred by Moldovagas to Tiraspoltransgaz, the unrecognized pro-Russian Transdniestrian region gas company. Although Russia does not officially recognize Transnistria as a state, its officials visiting Tiraspol (the so-called capital of Transnistria) are calling the gas transfers “help to brotherhood.” Tiraspoltransgaz charges a low price to local gas consumers, but hands the money over to the so-called Tiraspol government, as revenue for the budget.
To make the situation even more complicated, among Transnistria’s gas consumers is the Cuciurgan gas plant, which supplies almost all of the electricity consumed by Moldova proper. The plant is controlled by the Russian company Inter RAO.
All of the previous 15 lawsuits have ended with confirmation of the claims. But since Chisinau’s new government that will be installed after the July 11 elections – presumably led by Sandu’s Action and Solidarity Party – should not recognize debt as sovereign debt (as previous governments did more or less officially), Gazprom could possibly have to use the provisions made for the 7 billion dollars of gas delivered to Transnistria and write off the debts already provisioned as âexpected loss on loansâ.
In turn, Moldovagaz affirms that âthe complex reorganization plan of Moldovagaz also provides for the improvement of the legal framework concerning the establishment of the mechanism of payment of debts to Gazprom. â¦ The basic principle is the assumption of responsibility for the repayment of these debts by the entities directly responsible for their accumulation â, according to the director of Moldovagaz Vadim Ceban.
In simpler terms, the director of Moldovagaz says that the debt is not his debt, but that of Tiraspoltransgaz. Which, from a legal and accounting point of view, does not make sense, but constitutes an attempt to integrate the issue into the frozen conflict in Transnistria – therefore relevant for the Moldovan government. It has worked so far, but maybe not after July 11.