Bulgaria's Lucky Escape - No Burgas in Burgas-Alexandroupolis
It's official: Bulgaria has said "no" to the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline project four years after signing the trilateral agreement for its implementation.
The reason behind the decision of the government was the newly established economic and financial unfeasibility of the scheme.
Curiously enough, the cabinet arrived at the conclusion straight after a positive environmental impact assessment (EIA) by Trans-Balkan Pipeline, the operator of the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline project, which had been returned for revision three times.
If the dire global economic and financial situation is the actual motive for the decision, then a special Bulgarian thank you should go out to the crisis.
Bulgarians, Burgas residents most of all, are triumphant that they will avoid a natural disaster waiting to happen.
Before they can rejoice, however, Bulgarians will have to settle a bill of BGN 12.8 M in unpaid installments by the state as a shareholder in the joint Bulgarian-Greek-Russian venture.
Opinions as to whether the withdrawal will incur sanctions vary at this stage.
It is unfortunate that Bulgaria will have to sacrifice substantial financial resources to pull out of the project, but the fortunate thing is that it has summoned the courage to oppose a budding initiative aimed at further entrenching Russia's energy monopoly.
Contrary to the claims of outgoing President Parvanov, who referred to them as a "grand slam" on the way to energy security, the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline, the South Stream gas pipeline and the Belene NPP, could only send Bulgaria back into Russia's embrace.
The government has done right to forsake an as yet unspecified amount of transit fees and a certain number of new job places in exchange for an oil-spill-safe Black Sea coast, undisturbed natural areas and an unscathed tourism industry.
If the crisis is an opportunity, as the modern saying goes, for Bulgaria, then why not shed other unwholesome commitments?
Shale gas might be a good suggestion?