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Moldova Pays Gazprom December Gas Bill, Asks For January Extension.

Moldova’s gas distribution company, Moldovagaz, says it has paid Russian state-owned gas giant Gazprom for natural gas supplied in December as the country struggles to pay for higher energy prices.

"Moldovagaz has transferred the full payment for natural gas supplied in December 2021 to Gazprom," the company said in a statement posted on its website on January 13.

Moldova in October declared a state of emergency and started buying gas from countries other than Russia after its contract with Gazprom expired at the end of September and the two sides failed to agree on details and the pricing of a new long-term deal.

But in a breakthrough in late October, the Moldovan government and Gazprom announced a new price formula for a five-year agreement to keep gas flowing.

Moldovagaz still has until January 20 to make a down payment for this month's gas bill, according to the contract with Gazprom.

Moldovan Minister of Infrastructure and Regional Development Andrei Spinu said on January 11 that the purchase price has increased from $550 per thousand cubic meters in December to $647 in January, a hike that could cause problems for one of Europe's poorest countries.

Spinu said he had asked Gazprom CEO Aleksei Miller to consider the possibility of postponing the advanced payment for January by 10-20 days so that Moldovagaz could accumulate funds.

Some observers say Russia is using energy against the impoverished country sandwiched between EU member Romania and Ukraine for electing pro-Western President Maia Sandu in 2020 in a vote that rejected Russia-backed incumbent Igor Dodon.

Russia has rejected the accusations, saying the hike was purely commercial and reflected global markets.

With reporting by unimedia.md and TASS

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