Bulgaria will raise natural gas and heating prices as of April 1, the chairman of the country's energy regulator said without specifying the exact size of the increase.
The hike, however, will be smaller than requested by state-owned gas company Bulgargaz, which was 27%, state-run Bulgarian News Agency (BTA) quoted the chairman of the State Energy and Water Regulatory Commission, Angel Semerdzhiev, as saying on Tuesday.
The price of natural gas to domestic users is influenced primarily by fuel prices on the Mediterranean markets, which are on the rise, as well as by the U.S. dollar/euro ratio, Semerdzhiev said.
A reduction of gas supplies to Bulgaria and an increase in emergency supplies from the local storage facility at Chiren should not be seen as a legitimate reason for raising prices because Bulgargaz and Bulgartransgaz have to be prepared for such circumstances, according to Semerdzhiev.
The final decision on the size of the increase will be taken after March 9 when Bulgargaz should submit with the energy regulator a proposal for a new tariff, the Bulgarian National Radio (BNR) reported.
The increase of natural gas prices in the beginning of the year was not reflected in the client bills of the local heating utilities as the utilities tapped into their reserves, BTA cited Semerdzhiev as saying. However, the heating utilities will not be able to keep the current price levels after another hike, he added.