Greece's DEPA to Become First Gas Supplier to Bulgaria Outside Gazprom

SOFIA (Reuters) - Bulgaria's Bulgargaz has struck a deal to buy 1.5 million megawatt hours of natural gas from Greece's DEPA, the first time the state provider has bought gas outside its long-term contract with Russia's Gazprom.

Bulgargaz will complete the purchase in the second quarter, pumping the gas into its Chiren underground storage facility, the company said on Tuesday.

Currently more than 95 percent of the Balkan country's gas needs are met by supplies from Gazprom, delivered through a pipeline crossing Ukraine, Moldova and Romania.

Bulgargaz said DEPA had offered the lowest price in a tender at which the state provider also received offers from Bulgaria's Dexia and Dutch-registered Kolmar NL.

Last month Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said he was expecting Azeri state energy company SOCAR to start investing in Bulgaria's retail gas distribution network this year.

Sofia plans to meet up to 30 percent of its gas needs beyond 2020 through purchases from Azerbaijan under its contract to import 1 billion cubic metres (bcm) of gas a year from the Shah Deniz II gas field in the Caspian Sea. (Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by Jan Harvey)

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