Bulgaria 'Unable to Halt South Stream Construction' - Ex-Energy Minister

Energy | January 25, 2015, Sunday // 14:07|  views

Photo by EPA/BGNES

Sofia cannot move to suspend activities related to the construction of the South Stream gas pipeline, a former Energy Minister and current MP said on Sunday.

"If we suspend activities unilaterally... this would be a violation of the shareholders' agreement between the two shareholders [sic!]. This is why we cannot put an end to the issuance of permits," Delyan Dobrev, who heads Parliament's Energy Committee, told the Bulgarian National Television.

He was referring to the shareholders at South Stream Bulgaria AD, a joint venture set up in 2010 by state-owned Bulgarian Energy Holding (BEH) and Russian energy giant Gazprom to be in charge of the pipeline's construction on Bulgarian soil. On Friday, South Stream Bulgaria CEO Dimitar Gogov announced his entity was still operational and was being financed by the shareholders.

Gogov then revealed activities aimed at obtaining a final construction permit were still being carried out.

On Sunday Dobrev blamed Russia for failing to provide an official announcement that the project was over.

South Stream was declared abandoned by Russian President Vladimir Putin in December. Another project, the so-called "Turkish Stream", was announced as a substitute.

But Dobrev believes the latter pipeline is not economically feasible. He told the BNT that "building a gas pipeline via Turkey to feed Eastern Europe is like departing for Plovdiv from Sofia and passing through Vratsa and Gabrovo to make it shorter." (Plovdiv is in Bulgaria's south while Vratsa and Gabrovo are in the north.)

In his words, Turkish Stream is unlikely to happen for this reason.

Moscow announced earlier in January that it was intending to redirect the entire gas flow via Ukraine to Turkish Stream once it was completed, urging Europe to prepare for the shift.

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Tags: South stream, Turkish Stream, Delyan Dobrev, Vladimir Putin, south stream bulgaria, Gazprom, BEH, Dimitar Gogov


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