US Ambassador: Bulgaria's Gas Contracts Are Kept Secret

Energy | September 10, 2012, Monday // 11:17|  views

US Ambassador James Warlick will conclude his service in Bulgaria on September 14. Photo by BGNES

There are secret natural gas agreements and contracts, according to the outgoing US Ambassador in Sofia, James Warlick.

Warlick spoke Monday morning in an interview for Nova TV, stressing that Bulgarians pay too high electric power prices.

"Agreements for natural gas were secret and made behind closed doors. These deals often involve USD millions and even billions of Bulgarian taxpayers' money. I have never seen secret contracts, but it is public information that they exist. I don't know how matters are developing during current negotiations," Warlick said.

The Ambassador called for full transparency regarding the said amounts so that everyone can learn that these are the expenses needed to produce electric power i.e. the money paid to natural gas suppliers.

He pointed out that in the US 1 000 cubic meters of natural gas cost about USD 100 while in Bulgaria the cost is USD 500.

"I also don't know details about the relations between Gazprom and the European Commission or about those between Gazprom and Bulgaria, but I believe every company must function openly like the American business does," said Warlick.

He also commented that the relations between Bulgaria and Russia are extremely good and this was not going to change.

Last week, the European Commission launched an investigation into anti-competitive practices by Russian energy giant Gazprom, as it is suspected of hindering competition in Central and Eastern European gas markets in a breach of the bloc's antitrust rules.

At the end of August, Bulgaria and Russian energy giant Gazprom reached an agreement to sign by November 15 a new contract for the delivery of natural gas from Russia, effective January 1 2013. Until then the price of natural gas was reduced by 11%.

Bulgaria will further sign an investment agreement for the Russian South Stream gas pipeline. The first gas quantities are to reach Bulgaria via South Stream in 2015. The profit of the joint company South Stream Bulgaria is set at 8% while the equipment on Bulgarian territory is owned by a joint company where the Bulgarian Energy Holding, BEH, and Gazprom have 50% each.

Warlick will depart from Bulgaria on September 14 to return to Washington, D. C. where he will immediately serve as Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, a senior policy position in the office of the Secretary of State.

Later Monday he will be bestowed by Bulgarian President, Rosen Plevneliev, with the highest order of the country Stara Planina, first degree.

The arrival date of new Ambassador, Marcie Ries, is unknown.

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Tags: secret, price, prices, electric power, Gazprom, South stream, agreements, contracts, natural gas, James Warlick, European Commission, probe, antitrust


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