Bulgarian state-owned gas supplier Bulgargaz and private Bulgarian-Russian company Overgaz have signed a contract providing for latter to receive gas from the state supplier and avoid a halt in deliveries to customers from January 1.

Overgas, Inc. provides gas to tens of thousands of households and over 3000 industrial consumers. On Wednesday, Bulgarian officials reported that they had received a copy of a letter to Overgas from Gazprom Export reading that supplies would be halted on January 1.

No reason was initially indicated, but Russia later revealed it was in talks with Overgas to “settle commercial issues”.

Jacklen Cohen, CEO of the Bulgarian Energy Holding (which owns Bulgargaz), announced the deal on Thursday afternoon, at a press briefing after an emergency meeting of Prime Minister Boyko Borisov with BEH and Bulgargaz officials at the Council of Ministers’ building in Sofia.

TV stations showed Borisov explaining to reporters that if the government had not reacted to the developments by convening energy officials, Overgas consumers would have had to accept a halt in supplies starting at midnight on January 1.

“I don’t want to talk about scenarios, I don’t want to talk about conspiracies, you should judge by yourselves if this letter should be sent to us a few hours before thousands of households and businesses run out of gas. I leave it up to you to comment if this is normal,” he warned.

Borisov also made clear the cabinet could guarantee to gas consumers they would continue to receive deliveries at prices already agreed.

Cohen for his part said state authorities taken steps “bordering the impossible” to arrange and coordinate with Gazprom the new deliveries to Overgas – a move that Gazprom might have interpreted as a breach of long-term contracts with Bulgargaz.

Overgas, however, insists it has not been notified that gas deliveries will be halted. Several media outlets quote Overgaz press office head Neri Terzieva as saying her company has not received any letter from Gazprom Export warning of an upcoming halt in supplies.

“I am waiting for a comment on the attempt at stealing a business,” Dnevnik.bg reportrs Terzieva as saying.

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