South Stream 'Could Be Revisited' after Bulgaria Election - Hungary FMEnergy | February 28, 2017, Tuesday // 10:06| views
File photo, EPA/BGNES
Hungary's Foreign Minister has argued the abandoned South Stream gas pipeline project could be revisited following the early election in Bulgaria next month.
RIA Novosti quotes Peter Szijjarto as saying: "All these countries in the Western Balkans and Central Europe, we have the interest of revitalizing South Stream."
Szijjarto has opined one should wait until the election to "see their position".
He has recalled that Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orbán discussed a possible South Stream revival as Russian President Vladimir Putin was visiting Budapest earlier this year. "[He] raised the issue, saying we really want the project to be revived."
Bulgaria's caretaker government has not commented on the remarks of Szijjarto.
Some polls suggest the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), which advocates for renewal of some large-scale energy projects with Russia, will win the election and may even be able to form a government working with other parties and coalitions.
South Stream in particular was abandoned by Russia in 2014 due to the former Bulgarian government's decision not to issue construction permits for its exclusive economic zone in the Black Sea. Project activities on behalf of Bulgaria, however, were frozen under a BSP-led cabinet half a year earlier, under pressure from the EU.
South Stream would have carried 63 billion cubic meters of gas under the Black Sea to Central Europe via Bulgaria and Serbia. A "Macedonian" branch had also been considered.
There have been a number of signs from Russian officials that South Stream might be renewed if Bulgaria can provide guarantees.
They come after Turkish Stream, the gas pipeline project announced as alternative to South Stream back in 2014, was cut down in scope and left with only two instead of four threads. Initially, the idea was to transfer the same capacity of gas envisaged for South Stream, but the volume was cut in half after it was made clear Turkey would only receive gas for domestic consumption via the new pipes.