So far, the Government of North Macedonia doesn’t have any stable option for buying gas for the central heating system in the capital Skopje, apart from purchasing gas from the Russian state company Gazprom through the gas pipeline from Bulgaria to Kumanovo. But, seeing what happened at the end of the last heating season and taking into account the unpredictability of the Russian energy policies, even that option is far from certain.
As informed sources say, the heating plants in Skopje during October have been using Russian gas from Gazprom, purchased through Makpetrol, to provide heating for around 60 000 homes in the capital of North Macedonia. Makpetrol offered to secure natural gas for the heating plants in Skopje for the forthcoming period, as well.
The government says that it expects this week offers for gas deliveries from 2-3 companies that will remain unnamed. With the help of the EU and the USA, a maximum effort has been invested together with the Bulgarian authorities to increase the capacity for gas transportation through the only interconnection gas pipeline between North Macedonia and Bulgaria. This would allow the transportation of additional 150 million normal cubic on top of what the Russian Gazprom is offering.
The idea is to increase the pressure in the interconnectiot pipeline between Macedonia and Bulgaria from the current 38-40 bars to 46 bars, which would allow the transportation of additional quantities of natural gas. As the government states, there are negotiations underway for the use of the new interconnection gas pipeline between Bulgaria and Greece, so that additional quantities of natural gas can be delivered.
Else, sources in the government said that the opposition party’s leader Hristijan Mickoski offer was to secure gas through the PGO company, registered in Switzerland, that would offer Russian gas from Gazprom.
Also, Mickoski offered a purchase of mazutl through a company from Republika Srpska – Bosnia and Herzegovina. This in practice means that the opposition’s proposals are for Macedonia to purchase gas and mazut from Russia through retailers.
Recently, Radio Free Europe in Bosnian announced that Bosnia and Herzegovina is almost completely dependent on Russian oil. Since Bosnia and Herzegovina doesn’t have its own operational refinery that produces oil derivatives, Bosnia and Herzegovina is completely dependent on import of fuels, that are completely processed from Russian oil. The majority owner of the oil refinery “Brod” in Republika Srpska is the Russian company Zarubeznyeft, but this refinery hasn’t produced any oil products in the past 3 years.
In his interview for the public broadcasting service MTV on Monday, VMRO-DPMNE’s leader, Hristijan Mickoski said that the one that divulged the names of the companies didn’t have the authorization to do so and had acted unethically. As he stressed, the company he proposed was in the “position” connected with the purchase of gas, without explaining what that meant. Mickoski also said that during a meeting with the government this company offered to deliver gas at least twice cheaper than the current price.
Also, regarding the mazut, in the interview for MTV, Mickoski stated that a meeting took place on the 9th of October at the Ministry of Economy that was also attended by the representatives of the company he proposed.
“Since I was authorized to say this publicly, the price that they offered is €40 per ton lower than the current price at the oil markets. This would mean saving at least €80 – 90 per ton compared to the price that the state is paying,” said Mickoski.
On the other hand, the government stated that the company proposed by Mickoski didn’t submit any concrete price offer either for gas or for mazut or any other energy product whatsoever.
What the VMRO-DPMNE’s party leader didn’t mention in the interview on Monday was the latest package of sanctions that the European Union imposed on Russia. With the latest sanctions, the EU member countries have agreed to impose limits on the price of Russian oil after Moscow illegally annexed 4 Ukrainian regions.
Additionally, the Western Balkans countries aren’t excluded from the ban on the import of crude oil from Russia so Serbia, which has a refinery in Panchevo, and in the future Serbia will not be able to import Russian oil through the JANAF oil pipeline that is passing through Croatia.
Russia’s dependabity when it comes to energy deliveries worsened toward the end of September this year, when a series of explosions damaged the Nord Stream – 1 gas pipeline, through which Europe was supplied with gas from Russia. After the delivery of Russian gas through Nord Stream 1 was cut, Russian President Vladimir Putin offered to continue the delivery of gas through Nord Stream – 2 which was immediately rejected by Germany, Al Jazeera reported.
Apart from the energy war that it wages with the West, in the past period, Russia decided to escalate the military aggression on Ukraine, and it decided to mobilize 300 000 military reservists and send them to the front. Russian officials on several occasions threatened that Russia will use nuclear weapons to defend itself, while simultaneously annexing the 4 occupied territories in Ukraine. Russian attacks on civilian, infrastructural and military objects in Ukraine continue almost every day, and they are unpredictable and it is a matter of time before these Russian moves can provoke a new group of sanctions from the international community on Russia.
Government sources in North Macedonia have briefed that the Economic crisis – energy headquarters has been put into use and is constantly in session. They say that they will wait for the offers for gas for Skopje’s heating plants, but also for the combined power plant TE-TO until the 20th of October. According to them, the gas price is the problem, not its delivery, stressing the decline of gas prices in the past few days.
Obviously, there will be no positive outcome out of the pompous promises made by the government toward the end of September about the cooperation between Serbia and Macedonia. On Monday, Serbia completely banned the export of gas until the end of the month, informs Voice of America – Serbia service. Previously, toward the end of September, the Macedonian government announced an agreement between Macedonia and Serbia for the delivery of gas and in turn, it would sell part of the TE-TO produced electricity to Serbia.
North Macedonia, together with Serbia and Bulgaria are completely dependent on the import of Russian gas. Macedonia has yet to start with the construction of the interconnection gas pipeline with Greece in order to diversify the sources of gas for the country. On the 1st of October, the gas inter-connector Greece – Bulgaria was put into service, with the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen attending the ceremony, who stated that this infrastructural facility is of great importance in the process of freeing the EU from the dependence of Russian gas. The Azerbaijani President Ilham Alyev stated on the 30th of December that his country is ready to double the export of Azerbaijani gas to the EU by 2027, Kathimerini informs.