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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Gazprom Cuts Gas to Yugoslavia

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia — Russian Gazprom has recently reduced its gas supply to Yugoslavia by about a third, an industry source in Belgrade said Wednesday.

"On Nov. 20 Gazprom cut its daily deliveries to 3 million cubic meters from a previous 4.17 million cubic meters, which covers only half of the country’s daily needs," an official of state oil and gas monopoly Naftna Industrija Srbije said.

The official said it was not clear why Gazprom had cut back but suggested the Russians may have been alarmed by the fact many gas customers in Yugoslavia were not paying their bills.

The country receives 125,000 cubic meters per hour from Russia and 75,000 to 78,000 cubic meters per hour from domestic production that only partly covers household heating systems and small industries, said the official, who asked not to be named.

"Once the temperature falls to minus 5 degrees Celsius, our needs for natural gas will rise to up to 600,000 cubic meters per hour," the official added.

Yugoslavia’s President Vojislav Kostunica secured renewal of Russian gas imports, suspended in June over Belgrade’s $350 million debt to Gazprom, during a meeting with President Vladimir Putin in Moscow a month ago.

Acting on a Russian government order, Gazprom promised to supply 4.2 million cubic meters a day to Yugoslavia until the end of 2000.

The NIS official said Gazprom representatives were expected to come to Belgrade early next week to discuss the resumption of gas imports at the previous level as well as delivery of extra quantities, for those industries that can afford to pay. "This has removed Gazprom’s threat to again halt its deliveries to us," the official added.

The official blamed artificially low prices, which had not covered even half the costs, and non payments of bills by gas customers for the current financial difficulties. Only 60 percent of consumed gas was regularly paid for.