Bulgaria Sold Woodland to South Stream Despite Freeze of Activities
Bulgaria's Ministry of Agriculture has confirmed that 359 da of woodland were sold to South Stream Bulgaria in July.
The ministry's press office made the announcement after the investigative website Bivol.bg published a report on the deal.
The latest developments also came against the background of outgoing Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski's earlier assurance that activities on the construction of South Stream will be halted after the European Commission raised its doubts about the project's compatibility with the Third Energy Package and announced it would start an infringement procedure.
South Stream Bulgaria, a 50-50 joint venture of the Bulgarian Energy Holding (BEH) and Russian energy concern Gazprom, purchased the land for nearly BGN 10.78 M (EUR 5.51 M).
A square meter of the area was therefore worth EUR 15, below usual prices.
In comparison, First Investment Bank earlier paid BGN 207 (EUR 105) per square meter to buy land in the same region to later grant South Stream servitude to host the pipeline.
The area near the Black Sea city of was sold on July 21, just two days before the socialist-liberal cabinet stepped down.
Agriculture Ministry officials asserted all legal procedures had been observed during the deal.
They remind that South Stream's Bulgarian stretch was declared an object of national importance, a move the government made in 2011 to exempt the pipeline from a moratorium imposed on land within the A and B development zones near the Black Sea coast.
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