Bulgaria's Energy Watchdog to Become Parliamentary Structure

Energy | August 15, 2014, Friday // 17:52|  views

Vasil Shtonov, caretaker Energy Minister, photo by BGNES

Vasil Shtonov, caretaker Energy Minister, has informed that the State Commission for Energy and Water Regulation (DKEVR) may be moved from the government to Parliament.

Shtonov made clear at a Friday press conference that the proposal was still being discussed and it could only be implemented by an ordinary government.

He underscored that the measure was aimed at increasing the independence of the entity and boosting its expert capacity.

Shtonov, as cited by the Bulgarian Telegraph Agency, said that one of his goals would be to increase the efficiency of state-owned energy companies, adding that it involved senior-level reshuffles.

He announced that the deficit in the energy system amounted to BGN 3B and it kept growing by BGN 500-600M a year.

Bulgaria's caretaker Energy Minister underscored that the deficit would keep snowballing until the authorities took urgent steps to solve the problem.

He argued that the country's energy strategy had to be revised in order to minimize losses in the medium term and to allow the start of repayment of liabilities accumulated over the past 4-5 years.

He said that the first steps for the creation of an energy board would be taken in the next few weeks, adding that it would guarantee that the opinions and recommendations of all market participants had been taken into consideration.

As regards the South Stream gas pipeline project, he noted that it would be beneficial for Bulgaria to implement it, taking into account that it entailed a negligible risk for the state.

Shtonov explained that the authorities were working to make the gas pipeline project compatible with EU law and as favorable as possible for Bulgaria.

He assured that Bulgaria had no reason to fear a potential gas supply cut or disruption over the situation in Ukraine.

Shtonov declared that the Chiren gas storage facility was 75% full, which would suffice to cover the energy needs for 60-120 days, depending on the weather conditions.

He added that the caretaker government would provide the resources for filling the gas depot to its full capacity over the next few days.

The caretaker Energy Minister noted that the work on Bulgaria's gas grid interconnections with Romania, Turkey and Serbia continued.

He also said that the total cost of the project to build a 7th unit of the Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) would amount to over 15% of Bulgaria's GDP and the country would also have to shoulder the entire risk and the burden of financing it.

Shtonov emphasized that the caretaker government would not take any steps under the agreement with US Westinghouse Electric on the N-plant unit.

He pointed out that the next Cabinet would have to make the tough decision on unit 7 of the Kozloduy NPP, vowing that Bulgaria's interests would be protected during the term in office of the caretaker government.

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Tags: Vasil Shtonov, caretaker government, State Commission for Energy and Water Regulation, DKEVR, South Stream gas pipeline, Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant, Westinghouse, Chiren, gas storage


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