Bulgaria-Greece Gas Link Ahead of Schedule - Energy Minister

Energy | December 7, 2011, Wednesday // 17:35|  views

Bulgaria's Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism Traicho Traikov anticipates the appontment of a fourth Deputy Minister. Photo by BGNES

Bulgaria's Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism Traicho Traikov has dismissed as "mere speculation" allegations that Bulgaria would not receive its rightful share of EU funds for the construction of the gas grid interconnections with Romania and Greece for this year.

Traikov specified that the source of the alleged misinformation was MEP Ivaylo Kalfin, a presidential candidate of Bulgaria's opposition, left-wing Socialist Party (BSP), at the end-October elections.

"What he says does not correspond to the truth," Bulgaria's Energy Minister stated, adding that the project for the gas grid interconnection with Greece was moving ahead of schedule rather than according to schedule.

"Activities are currently underway on the detailed site development plan, the parcel plan, the environmental impact assessment and the terms of reference of the project. The last meeting with European Commission's Directorate-General for Energy was held in September in Sofia and it was noted that everything was being implemented according to the requirements. We already have invoiced sums for small payments for which we could seek reimbursement. We are waiting for a change in the beneficiary of the EUR 45 M grant in January," Traikov explained.

The current beneficiaries are the Bulgarian Energy Holding (BEH), Greek gas company DEPA and Italian energy company Edison S.p.A., which have been tasked with building the gas link.

In January, the grant beneficiary will be changed to joint investment company ICJB, in which BEH controls 50%, with the remaining shares owned equally by DEPA and Edison.

Traikov also said that a fourth deputy minister would be appointed to the Ministry of Economy, Energy and Tourism in line with the newly-approved amendments to the institution's Rules of Organization.

The new deputy minister's areas of work would be mineral resources and concessions, Traikov said, while noting that the appointment would take place within days.

Traikov refused to comment on the withdrawal of German power utility E.ON from Bulgaria and the sale of its business to Czech Energo-Pro and advised journalists to contact the company about the motives behind its decision.

On Saturday, German energy utility E.ON sold its distribution units in Northeastern Bulgaria to Czech company Energo-Pro in a deal worth EUR 133 M.

"We need to ask ourselves not only why one company is leaving but also why another one is arriving," he stated.

Traikov stressed that E.ON was the sole power distributor to fail to implement its investment program.

The Energy Minister suggested, however, that the fulfillment of the investment program had been included in the contract with Energo-Pro, or otherwise the State Energy and Water Regulatory Commission (DKEVR) could fine the Czech company as an assignee of E.ON.

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Tags: European Commission, EU funding, EU grants, Ivaylo Kalfin, Energo PRO, power distributor, E.ON, gas grid interconnection, Energy and Tourism, Minister of Economy, Traicho Traikov, Interconnection Greece-Bulgaria


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