BELGRADE (Reuters) - Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said on Tuesday he had discussed models of debt repayment to Russian state gas giant Gazprom with Russian President Vladimir Putin by telephone.
Vucic’s government said last week that the country’s gas debt of $224 million was the reason for a 28-percent reduction in gas supplies from Russia. Supplies first fell in late September.
But Vucic had said he would ask Putin for debt rescheduling as his government needs to rein in spending in its 2015 budget to get a new three-year loan deal with the International Monetary Fund.
“The two interlocutors agreed ways of cooperation regarding all issues linked to Russian gas deliveries to Serbia and models of debt repayment,” Vucic’s office said in a statement, without giving any details.
Putin has accepted Vucic’s request “to secure more favorable gas supplies to Serbia’s petrochemical complex.”
Serbia is heavily dependent on Russian gas, importing more than 80 percent of its annual consumption of 2.5 billion cubic meters via Hungary and Ukraine.
The EU candidate country put its oil and gas sector largely in the hands of Gazprom in 2008, in a deal that allowed Gazprom’s oil arm Gazprom Neft to acquire a majority stake in state-owned oil firm NIS.
Gazprom is majority shareholder in Serbia sole gas storage facility with the capacity of 450 million cubic meters.
Reporting by Ivana Sekularac; editing by Ralph Boulton