CHISINAU, Moldova (AP) — Moldova has struck a deal to renew severed electricity supplies from its breakaway, Moscow-backed region of Transnistria to lower the risk of more massive blackouts amid an acute winter energy crisis, a senior Moldovan official said Saturday.
Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Spinu said Moldovan state power company Energocom has signed a deal for December with the gas-operated Kuciurgan electricity plant in Transnistria. At the beginning of November, the plant stopped supplying electricity to other parts of Moldova after Russia reduced natural gas flows to the country by 40%.
In recent weeks Moldova — Europe’s poorest country — has suffered major power outages as a result of Russian strikes on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure. Moldova’s Soviet-era systems remain interconnected with Ukraine’s, which caused the lights to go out in the former Soviet republic of about 2.6 million people.
“With signing this contract, the risk of massive disconnections from electricity reduces,” Spinu, who is also Minister of Infrastructure and Regional Development, wrote on Telegram. “This contract is a reasonable compromise to provide citizens on both sides of the Dniester River with electricity and gas.”
Spinu said that the Moldovan gas company, Moldovagaz, will deliver 5.7 million cubic meters of gas to the Transnistria region.
Located in Transnistria, the Kuciurgan power plant is the largest energy company in Moldova. Transnistria broke away after a 1992 civil war but is not recognized by most countries. The plant was privatized in 2004 by Transnistrian officials and later sold to a Russian state-owned company. Moldova doesn’t recognize the privatization.
Moldova has been in the grip of an acute energy crisis since Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom — on which Moldova was entirely dependent for natural gas — dramatically reduced exports in the fall to the country citing unpaid bills.
Spinu said that officials talked about potentially extending the new deal through January to March, “to provide the whole country with electricity.”
Read More: Moldova signs new energy deal that could ease blackout risk