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Bulgaria seeks compensation from EU for South Stream project

December 03, 2014, 19:24 UTC+3 SOFIA

Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed to Sofia on Monday to demand compensation for losses from the halted project from the European Union

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©  AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel

SOFIA, December 3. /TASS/. Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov is going to Brussels for consultations in the EU on energy issues — the main topic of the forthcoming consultations in the European Commission will be Sofia’s attempt to get compensation for the closure of the South Stream gas pipeline project by Russia. It was halted by Moscow on December 1 as Bulgaria did not give Russia's natural gas monopoly Gazprom the permission to launch the natural gas pipeline system construction in the Black Sea.

Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed to Sofia on Monday to demand from the European Union compensation for losses from the halted project. Putin said that the project would have given at least €400 million to Bulgaria’s budget per year from gas transit.

The European Commission on December 9 will hold a coordination meeting with the EU countries’ governments on South Stream. And on Wednesday, Bulgarian authorities started the calculation of the lost funds. The more so that freezing the South Stream project Bulgaria complied with the EU policy. Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev said in October that his country would “prevent a situation in which the gas pipeline will be built not under European legislation.”

“None of us has seen the official figure - how much Bulgaria would gain and when it would start to get the profit. Such figure does not exist,” Borisov said in the Bulgarian parliament on Wednesday. “If it’s not 400 million euro per year, this means that our half of the project will pay back in several years. I’ve heard this, but could not read anywhere from which year and how much Bulgaria will be receiving from gas transit through its territory.”

The EU already said, however, that it does not intend to pay Bulgaria. European Commission spokesperson Anna-Kaisa Itkonen said on Tuesday that “there are no legal grounds for compensations in case of suspension of that or other similar projects.”

However, the Bulgarian premier still cherishes hopes. Boyko Borisov asked the lawmakers to set specific tasks: “There are issues I would like to discuss with representatives of the European Commission. I want the Popular Assembly to charge me with the task to raise them. I want the coming dialogue to be maximally constructive.”

Infographics Russian gas supplies to Europe: existing routes

Russian gas supplies to Europe: existing routes


Bulgarian expert says South Stream freeze Putin's tactical move

Deputy chairman of Bulgaria's energy commission Martin Dimitrov said in an interview with the NOVA TV channel on Tuesday that Russia's decision to give up the South Stream gas pipeline project and redirecting it towards Turkey is merely another tactical move by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The official said that a possible redirection of the planned pipeline towards Turkey would make the project economically impractical. Dimitrov said the move aims at increasing pressure on Bulgaria and the European Commission.

Bulgaria’s former economics and energy minister Rumen Ovcharov was critical of the country's authorities. “It is nakedly clear that Bulgaria will get no compensation for the suspension of the South Stream project and will find itself in the position of the loser. We must say “Thank you!” to Boyko Borisov (Bulgarian prime minister), who has over the past five years managed to suspend all three major infrastructure projects in Bulgaria, which could have drawn tremendous investments into the country and yielded major economic benefits,” he told TASS. “Turkey will now enjoy all economic benefits. As for us, theoretically speaking we may build an inter-system connector from Turkey to bring Russian gas to Bulgaria. I can see no extra opportunities for more talks. Russia has already displayed great patience,” Ovcharov believes.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Monday that Moscow would not be able to proceed with the construction of the South Stream project citing the EU’s position. The Russian leader said Moscow has failed to receive permission from Bulgaria. Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller later confirmed that the South Stream project has been closed.

South Stream is a global infrastructure project of Gazprom for laying a 63-billion cubic metre capacity gas carrier under the Black Sea to countries in South and Central Europe for diversifying natural gas supply routes and warding off transit risks. In the autumn of 2013, the European Commission launched an anti-monopoly investigation into the South Stream project on suspicion that it disagrees with the rules of the EU’s Third Energy Package under which companies are supposed to separate generation and sales operations from transmission networks.

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