Фото: Архива на Мета.мк

Approximately 56 000 users connected to the central heating network in Skopje, the capital of North Macedonia, could get much higher bills from the 1st of January. Balkan Energy Group (BEG), the operator of the network, submitted request to Energy and Water Services Regulatory Commission of North Macedonia (EWSRC) for 300% increase of the fees for its service.

Balkan Energy Group defends its motion with the enormous price hikes of the natural gas on the stock exchanges around the world in the last weeks.

However, it is expected that the regulator will not accept the request.

The EWSRC confirms that it received such a request from BEG, but the increase of the central heating prices for the citizens of Skopje will be determined soon.

Moreover, the country has built a gas pipeline connection only with Bulgaria, where all quantities of natural gas arriving are from Russia.

“Makpetrol”, the company that manages the pipeline, announced this afternoon that they had signed an agreement with the Russian state-owned company “Gazprom”, thus providing the necessary quantities of gas for the Macedonian market. They explain that the price of gas is 30 percent lower than the stock market price, but also add that “Makpetrol” supplies gas to some of the companies that provide central heating for citizens, but BEG is not one of their customers.

The EWSRC at the end of July last year made decisions that reduce by an average of 4 percent the final price of delivered heat to the three companies in the city of Skopje. Meanwhile, the global energy crisis hit Europe this fall with a huge rise in electricity and gas prices, with some Eastern European countries already accusing Russia of using gas as a weapon.

Poland this week accused Moscow of halting its deliveries via the Yamal-Europe pipeline, accusing “Gazprom” of “manipulation”.

The Ukrainian gas operator said a few days ago that Russia was sending less gas to Europe via Ukraine than agreed in the transit agreement. “Gazprom” and Ukraine signed a five-year agreement on the transit of Russian gas to Europe at the end of 2019, reports Deutsche Welle.

Moldova declared a state of emergency last winter, after receiving a proposal from Russia to triple the price of natural gas, i.e. from 1 January 2022 to receive gas at a price of 790 dollars per 1,000 cubic meters. The EU has described Moscow’s proposal as pressure on pro-European policies pursued by Moldovan President Maia Sandu.

In contrast, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučič has been in direct talks with Vladimir Putin over the price of natural gas that Serbia will receive from 1 January. In October, Moscow offered Serbia a price of $ 790 per 1,000 cubic meters of natural gas, after which Vučič held face-to-face talks in Sochi with Putin and managed to persuade the price of gas for Serbia in the next six months to be 270 dollars for 1,000 cubic meters, reports the newspaper Danas and the BBC program in the Serbian language.

However, Serbian authorities have not clarified how President Vučič managed to persuade Russia to triple the price of gas originally proposed by Moscow.