Moldova Deputy PM announces deal to reduce risk of massive power outages

FILE PHOTO: Moldovan Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Spinu attends a news conference in Chisinau

Chisinau (Reuters) -Moldovan Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Spinu announced an energy deal on Saturday he said would reduce the risk of large-scale electricity outages in the former Soviet republic.

Spinu said state utilities firm Energocom would purchase enough electricity from the country's largest power station to cover all of Moldova's needs for December when combined with existing imports from Romania.

Moldova, one of Europe's poorest countries, has suffered from widespread power outages amid a reduced flow of natural gas from Russia and Kremlin air strikes on energy infrastructure in neighbouring Ukraine.

The power station, located in a breakaway territory loyal to Moscow, depends on Russian gas dispensed by Chisinau. It had stopped providing electricity to the rest of Moldova after Russian state energy giant cut flows by 40%.

Chisinau has since relied on more expensive Romanian electricity but has still suffered blackouts linked to Russian strikes on Ukraine.

Spinu said the power station, which sits across the Dniester River, would receive 5.7 million cubic meters of gas per day in exchange for selling electricity for $73 per megawatt per hour.

"This contract is a reasonable compromise to ensure the citizens on both banks of the Dniester with electricity and gas," Spinu wrote on his Telegram channel.

He added that officials were exploring the possibility of extending the contract into 2023.

(Reporting by Alexander Tanas; Writing by Dan Peleschuk; Editing by Toby Chopra and Louise Heavens)