European Commission approves 800M leva state aid for Bulgaria’s state gas firm

The European Commission has approved 800 million leva, or about 409 million euro, in Bulgarian state aid for the country’s state-owned gas company Bulgargaz.

The state aid, which took the form of a loan with subsidised interest rates granted by the Bulgarian Energy Ministry, was approved under the EU’s state aid temporary crisis framework rules, put in place to minimise the impact of Russia’s against Ukraine on European companies.

Bulgargaz, which is wholly owned by the Bulgarian state, faced “unusual liquidity needs in order to secure its supply of natural gas in a context marked by the surge in gas prices on the European energy markets,” after Gazprom cut off gas supplies to Bulgaria in April 2022.

Gazprom’s decision left Bulgargaz and the country’s caretaker cabinet in office at the time scrambling to secure new sources of gas to replace Russian gas, which accounted for 90 per cent of Bulgargaz’ deliveries to customers.

“The Commission concluded that the Bulgarian measure was necessary, appropriate and proportionate to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of a member state,” the EC said in a statement on October 10.

(European Commission headquarters Berlaymont building. Photo: JLogan)

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