Moldovan Prime Minister Iurie Leanca and Romania’s Victor Ponta innaugurated the new natural-gas pipeline link with Romania on Wednesday at Ungheni.

Iurie Leanca called the inauguration “an historic event” and an important step for his country’s energy independence. The official also said the pipeline means Moldova “can be sure that nobody can create problems for us or threaten us” with natural-gas-supply cuts.

Victor Ponta underlined that “Moldova will never have to fear running out of energy”.

“Moldova and Romania, to be truly independent, need energy, just like we need all the other resources. Together we can be truly independent and together we can be truly respected for that and that is the message we want to give Europe and everybody. I am convinced that this gas will be not only cheaper, but it will be secure and in this manner Moldova will never have to fear running out of energy”, according to the Romanian PM.

Moldova, which angered the Kremlin in June by signing a European Union trade agreement, currently depends upon Russia for gas.

Leanca said Bucharest and Chisinau still must negotiate a price for gas, which he said he hoped “will be lower than Russian Gazprom’s price.” Under an agreement signed in early August by the Romanian Transgaz company and Moldova’s state-run enterprise Vestmoldtransgaz, due to the low capacity of the pipeline, the Romanian gas supplies will not exceed 50 million cubic metres of gas per year, which is about 4 percent of the country’s annual gas demand (some 1.3 billion cubic metres).

For the project’s economic efficiency it is necessary to build the additional branch Ungeny – Chisinau with compressor stations and other transport infrastructure, which will take another EUR 50 million in investment writes Itar-Tass.

The pipeline cost some EUR 26 million, EUR 7 million of which came from the European Union.