Ex Bulgarian President: Bulgaria Must Oppose South Stream Suspension

Business » ENERGY | April 23, 2014, Wednesday // 13:34
Bulgaria: Ex Bulgarian President: Bulgaria Must Oppose South Stream Suspension Georgi Parvanov, former two-term President of Bulgaria and leader of the ABV Movement, photo by BGNES

Bulgaria's official stance on the South Stream gas pipeline project has to oppose its suspension, according to former two-term Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov.

Speaking during a Wednesday visit to Blagoevgrad, he criticized the activities of the socialist-led coalition government and Energy Minister Dragomir Stoynev, stressing that it had been Stoynev who had offered EU Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger to take charge of the negotiations for the project.

Parvanov, as cited by the press office of his political formation, the ABV Movement (Alternative for Bulgarian Revival), said that the April 17 resolution of the European Parliament opposing the construction of the gas pipeline triggered fears that the scheme could be terminated.

He noted that it was a non-legislative resolution which did not bind the other institutions.

In a Tuesday statement on the matter, Bulgarian Foreign Minister Kristian Vigenin defined the EP resolution as an emotional decision reflecting the desire of the institution for a swift solution of the crisis in Ukraine.

Parvanov argued on Wednesday that the South Stream gas pipeline project had to be implemented because of the credible threat of Bulgaria being affected by a new gas crisis in the long term.

He reminded that Bulgaria had been among the hardest hit countries by the 2009 gas crisis because it received 100% of its Russian gas supplies through Ukrainian territory.

Parvanov suggested that the project would bring benefits for the energy sector and the economy as a whole, stressing job creation forecasts.

"I wonder why they are not stopping Nord Strean and why they are applying a double standard, i.e. gas flows to northern EU member states and they are stopping a project of Bulgaria" he commented.

The Nord Stream pipeline, just like South Stream, does not comply with the EU's energy liberalization requirements.

However, Russia obtained the requested exemption from energy liberalization rules due to the importance of the gas pipeline for Germany and other countries in the region, according to reports of investor.bg.

Nord Stream shareholders include Russian Gazprom (with a 51% stake, equal to its stake in the South Stream gas pipeline project), German E.On and Wintershall (15.5% each) and Dutch Gasunie and French GDF Suez (9% each).

The construction of the Nord Stream gas pipeline started in April 2010 and gas transport along Line 1 started in November 2011, while Line 2 became operational in October 2012.

The South Stream gas pipeline project does not comply with several points of the EU's Third Energy Package.

The non-compliance of the gas pipeline project with EU regulations was established in the autumn of 2013.

The discrepancies concern pipeline ownership (Gazprom controls a majority stake in the project and at the same time is a gas supplier) and the failure to provide third-party access to the pipeline capacity.

Russia has refused to request an exemption for South Stream on the grounds that it is an international project and therefore needs to comply with international rules.

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Tags: Georgi Parvanov, Bulgarian President, Bulgarian Socialist Party, South Stream gas pipeline, EU law, Third Energy Package, energy market, Nord Stream, gas supplies, gas crisis, Socialist-led government, Economy and Energy Minister, Dragomir Stoynev, EU Energy Commissioner, Gunther Oettinger
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