KYIV (ICIS)--The Romanian gas grid operator Transgaz has started to offer border capacity with Moldova which is struggling to secure natural gas to cover rising demand.
The operator said it was offering bundled firm capacity at the Iasi-Ungheni interconnection point on the Hungary-based RBP platform from 20th October.
The capacity would be auctioned on a daily, monthly and quarterly basis.
If all firm capacity is booked, Transgaz would offer day-ahead interruptible capacity products.
On Wednesday, Transgaz offered 55GWh/day (5.2mcm/day) of bundled exit capacity and 200MWh/day of unbundled capacity.
Capacity allocation results would be uploaded on the Transgaz-operated GMOIS platform.
The Iasi-Ungheni interconnector has a 1.5 billion cubic metre annual capacity, which means it can single-handledly cover around half of Moldova’s annual demand.
The import capacity on the Moldovan side is operated by Vestmoldtransgaz, a company that is majority owned by Transgaz.
Last week the Moldovan regulator ANRE approved the new tariffs for import capacity for the Vestmoldtransgaz. These are around $10.00/1000sm3 for capacity that enters the local transmission system and $8.8/1000sm3 for capacity connecting with the Moldovan distribution system.
A Romania-based market source said Moldova could buy natural gas from Romania but added that market prices in the country were at a significant premium over neighbouring Ukraine.
“They [Moldova] would be much better off buying from the Ukrainian gas market than Romania at current prices,” he said.
The Romanian November product is currently trading on the BRM exchange at New Lei 459.30 (€92.54/MWh). To compare, the Ukrainian front month product was assessed by ICIS at €85.30/MWh on Wednesday.
Ukrainian entry-exit capacity tariffs with Moldova stand at $11.64/1000sm3 but ANRE is working to approve new tariffs for the Grebeniki, Oleksiivka and Causani border points that would be half the current value
Moldova is scrambling to buy additional volumes to plug a supply shortfall in Russian natural gas.
The country is receiving 67% of its gas demand for this month, which stands at 90 million cubic metres.
The incumbent Moldovagaz negotiated a one-month extension to its one-year contract which expired on 30 September but Russian producer Gazprom could only deliver two thirds of its needs at prices linked to the German hub.
Moldova has been asking Gazprom to extend the contract by another year from 1 October, retaining the same pricing formula as in the previous agreement.
Under this formula, Moldovagaz, which is partially owned by Gazprom, was paying oil-indexed prices for Q4 and Q1 imports and hub-indexed prices for the spring and summer quarters.
However, Gazprom has so far been unable to meet these requirements and has asked Moldovagaz to restructure its debt in excess of $500m, according to a source close to negotiations.
The Russian producer suggested the debt repayment was critical to Gazprom agreeing to larger plans by Moldovagaz to unbundle transmission operations and creating an independent TSO.
As negotiations halted, Moldovagaz hinted at the possibility of buying gas on the market but some sources said stakeholder Gazprom may veto the option.
The Moldovan government then suggested that state-owned trading company Energocom stepped in to buy the additional volumes on a spot basis.
The company is now expected to sign an EU-developed EFET master agreement that would allow it to enter the market.
Representatives of Moldova’s pro-EU government are expected to continue negotiations in Moscow on 21 October.