Bulgaria, Russia Discuss Exempting South Stream from EU Restrictions
Bulgaria and Russia are discussing the possibility of reclassifying the Bulgarian section of the South Stream gas pipeline into a field pipe to exempt it from EU restrictions.
According to a source familiar with last week’s talks between EU Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger and Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak, “the field status could solve all the problems on restrictions related to the EU third energy package,” Russian news agency ITAR-TASS reported on Tuesday.
There are two main requirements for the eligibility of major new gas infrastructure projects like South Stream to be developed in the EU in compliance with the European Commission Directive 2009/73/EC concerning common rules for the internal market in natural gas.
The first one relates to the unbundling between the suppliers and the owners of infrastructure, while the second one relates to the granting of third party access to the transmission and distribution systems.
In the case of the South Stream Russia's Gazprom cannot be engaged in production, transportation, and sales of natural gas at the same time. But the pipes carrying gas from EU's sea shelf fields have a special field status, which exempts them from the restrictions of the legislation.
Under EU legislation, pipelines carrying gas from the sea shelf wells of EU countries, particularly Germany, France and Belgium, have a 'field pipeline' status that exempts them from the requirement for mandatory granting of access of third parties to the pipeline.
Austria’s OMV, Gazprom’s partner in the Austrian section of South Stream, produces gas on the Bulgarian Black Sea shelf, and a pipeline built by OMV to carry gas from the shelf can be later included in the project by reassignment of rights.
Sofia has suspended the construction of South Stream after the European Commission warned in June it had launched infringement proceedings against Sofia over non-compliance of the Bulgarian section with the EU's Third Energy Package.
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