Russia's demand for gas payments in roubles breaches contracts, Bulgaria says

A manometer is pictured at the Atamanskaya compressor station, facility of Gazprom's Power Of Siberia project outside the far eastern town of Svobodny, in Amur region, Russia November 29, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov.

SOFIA, March 30 (Reuters) - Russia's demand for gas payments in roubles breaches contracts and should not be accepted, a government spokesperson for gas importer Bulgaria said on Wednesday, as a standoff between the European Union and Moscow over energy supplies intensifies.

"The Bulgarian position, which has also been coordinated on European level, is that such a breach of the existing contracts that clearly state payments should be carried out in euros or U.S. dollars, will not be allowed," the spokesperson said.

Bulgaria meets over 90% of its gas needs with imports from Russia's Gazprom (GAZP.MM). Its centrist government held a meeting on Wednesday to discuss what measures could be taken in the event of a halt in Russian gas supplies, the spokesperson said.

Other EU members are also scrambling to secure supplies after Moscow, angered by Western sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine that have hit the rouble, signalled it might halt gas flows if buyers didn't pay in roubles. read more .

The Kremlin said on Wednesday, however, that it would not immediately demand gas payments in roubles. read more

Bulgaria, which uses about three billion of cubic metres of gas per year, is holding talks with Azerbaijan to increase gas imports and looking into ways to import liquefied natural gas (LNG) through LNG terminals in Greece and Turkey.

Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova Editing by Mark Potter

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