Russia halted natural gas deliveries to Bulgaria in April after the government in Sofia refused to pay in roubles.
Bulgaria has been almost totally dependent on imports from Gazprom for most of its gas supply: the three billion cubic meters of annual imports from Russia have covered almost 90% of Bulgaria’s gas demand.
For all the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or through the app.
Since then, Bulgaria has struggled to find alternative options like Azeri gas or LNG gas from the United States to cover its needs.
Although much of the industry is not dependent on gas, several large companies are entirely dependent on natural gas.
Experts fear that sharp price increases or a lack of supply could force them to limit production or halt work and worsen economic hardship.
The head of the Bulgarian Association of Industrial Capital, Vassil Velev, estimates that closing these companies would mean that some 250,000 workers would lose their jobs.
In Bulgaria, the poorest of the 27 members of the European Union, soaring energy prices are forcing families to cut extra spending ahead of the coming winter months to ensure there is enough money to buy food and medicine.
According to Eurostat, more than a quarter of Bulgaria’s seven million cannot afford to heat their homes – the highest number in the EU.
Having to choose between heating their homes and putting food on the table, many households in financial difficulty will not be able to heat their homes this winter and risk falling into fuel poverty.
Statistics show that even middle-income households could struggle to pay their utility bills.
Poorly insulated buildings, low incomes and soaring energy prices are the main causes of fuel poverty.
In Sofia, where nearly half a million households have central heating, the number of those deciding to switch to other heating options jumped after the announcement of a 40% price increase.
Across the country, nearly half of households use firewood in the winter as the cheapest and most accessible fuel, but growing demand and runaway inflation have pushed prices above the level of the last year.
The authorities are trying to ease the financial burden of low-income households, mainly pensioners and the unemployed, by offering an energy allowance to buy wood for their stoves.
Other government-sponsored protective measures include export limits for wood processing companies and regular deliveries of firewood for the domestic market.
Gas supply to Pakistan via pipeline is possible, says Russian Putin
UK to hold emergency mini-budget on September 23: Sources
EU countries ask UN Rights Council to monitor Russia: diplomatic sources