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EU guided by political considerations in dealing with South Stream project — opinion

September 18, 2014, 21:49 UTC+3 SOFIA

Bulgaria’s former Economy and Energy Minister Dragomir Stoynev expressed hope that the new European Commission would find the right solutions through dialogue with all the parties concerned

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© ITAR-TASS/Ruslan Shamukov

South Stream project

The main gas pipeline section in Bulgaria will be 541 kilometres long. The project provides for building a receiving terminal and three compressor stations near Varna, Lozen and Rasovo with the aggregate capacity of 300 MW.

South Stream will be built across the Black Sea to South and Central European countries to diversify gas supplies to Europe and reduce the dependence on transit countries.

The offshore section of the pipeline, which will run in part along the seabed and reach the maximum depth of 2,200 m, will be 931 km long. Each of the four parallel strings of the pipeline will consist of 75,000 pipes, each 12 m long, 81 cm in diameter, 39 mm thick and weighing 9 tonnes.

The construction of South Stream started on December 7, 2012 is scheduled to be completed by 2015. The overall capacity of the marine section of the pipeline will be 63 billion cubic metres a year. Its cost is about 16 billion euro. The pipeline will go on onshore in the area of the Bulgarian city of Varna.

SOFIA, September 18 /ITAR-TASS/. European leaders are guided more by political rather than practical considerations in dealing with the South Stream project, Bulgaria’s former Economy and Energy Minister Dragomir Stoynev told ITAR-TASS on Thursday.

“I personally believe that European leaders are thinking more of politics and geopolitics rather than of economy or the position of European citizens. This should change. Economic interests, including in relations with Russia, should play the leading role,” Bulgaria’s ex-minister said. He noted that the European Commission was not taking necessary measures to guarantee stable gas supplies in the winter period for the EU member countries. With winter approaching, Europe is getting closer to the energy crisis.

“We are extremely concerned with a situation which is linked directly to the Russia-Ukraine conflict. There is a high degree of probability that gas transits will stop /for Europe, including Bulgaria/,” the former minister said.

According to him, Ukraine’s gas reserves will run out by late October, while the European Commission is not taking additional measures to avoid possible problems and guarantee gas supplies to the European Union in winter. That is why, Stoynev said, Sofia insists on further construction of the South Stream gas pipeline which is supposed to remove all risks for the blue fuel’s transit to Bulgaria and other countries in southeastern Europe.

“Gas storages in Europe are practically full but that does not solve the problem. France, Italy and some other countries have access to energy resources in Northern Africa while Bulgaria, Slovakia and Hungary do not have this access. They can rely only on Russian gas,” Stoynev explained.

“That is why we are insisting on swift decisions,” he added.

The ex-minister said that the European Union had imposed sanctions against Russia without due assessment of possible consequences.

“When sanctions are imposed against Russia, it is natural that it should retaliate. But that does not help anybody,” Stoynev said.

He expressed hope that the new European Commission would find the right solutions through dialogue with all the parties concerned.

“Unfortunately, all these decisions are directly linked to politics and will most likely be adopted at a much later stage. I doubt that anything concrete is going to be passed late in October for the reason that this theme is being considered in combination with the South Stream construction and the Ukraine conflict,” Stoynev said.

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