Bulgaria Ready to Start Building South Stream Immediately, Former Energy Minister Says
Bulgaria is able to start building the cancelled South Stream gas pipeline project as early as tomorrow, the country’s former Energy Minister Dragomir Stoynev said on Wednesday.
No other country lying on the proposed route of the pipeline from Russia to central Europe is better prepared than Bulgaria in technical and organizational terms to start the construction works immediately, said Stoynev who is deputy chairman of opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP).
Another big advantage for Bulgaria is the availability of an agreed funding mechanism for the project which doesn’t involve budget spending and only needs to be activated, Stoynev said in comments posted on the BSP website.
Stoynev’s comments followed Monday’s statement from the Russian President Vladimir Putin that Moscow will work closely with Bulgaria on the implementation of joint projects including those in the energy sector such as the South Stream gas pipeline. On Tuesday, Bulgaria’s Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova said that the country’s has never walked out of the South Stream project.
The project backed by the Russian energy giant Gazprom was designed to carry annually up to 63 billion cubic metres of Russian natural gas to Europe beneath the Black Sea and via Bulgaria, Serbia and Hungary to Austria, bypassing Ukraine. Moscow announced in December 2014 it has abandoned the project due to objections from the European Commission to Gazprom's plans to control the pipeline infrastructure.
To replace South Stream, Moscow announced it would build a pipeline to Turkey beneath the Black Sea. The project, dubbed Turkish Stream, would have to carry Russian gas for Turkey's consumption and transit gas to Europe via a hub yet to be built on Turkey's border with Greece.
Stoynev said that during his term of office Bulgaria’s Energy Ministry hadn’t issued any formal notice to Russia about suspending the South Stream project.
“I believe that the ministers who succeeded me have also shown common sense,” said Stoynev.
The transit of Russian gas to Europe through Bulgaria’s territory is a guarantee for the country’s own gas supplies, according to Stoynev.
If the project had been implemented as originally planned, gas flow to Bulgaria through South Stream was expected to start in 2018. In addition to energy security, the project will give a boost to Bulgaria’s economy and help create about 5,000 new jobs according to preliminary estimates, Stoynev said.
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