Bulgaria says can ensure gas supplies for at least 4 months

SOFIA, June 16 Mon Jun 16, 2014 9:49am EDT

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SOFIA, June 16 (Reuters) - The Bulgarian government can ensure natural gas supplies for at least three to four months if a price dispute between Moscow and Kiev leads to supply disruptions, Deputy Prime Minister Daniela Bobeva said on Monday.

Bulgaria is one of the European Union countries most exposed to possible gas supply cuts, as it gets almost all of its gas from Russia's Gazprom via one route through Ukraine.

"We made a decision to increase the gas stockpile, and we also have ideas for alternative supplies," Bobeva told reporters.

Russia cut off gas to Ukraine on Monday in a dispute over unpaid bills that could disrupt supplies to the rest of Europe and set back hopes for peace in the former Soviet republic.

In a separate statement, the Bulgarian energy ministry said gas inflows from Russia had not been disrupted for the time being. It said the country had gas stocks that could meet demand for at least 100 days at about 65 percent of the daily need.

The Balkan country can also reverse an existing gas pipeline with Greece and receive additional quantities of up to 3 million cubic meters (mcm) per day from Greece in case of emergency.

The country's daily gas need stand at an average of 3.3 mcm per day. (Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova; Editing by Mark Potter)

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