Bulgaria ready to issue South Stream permits
Bulgaria is ready to issue all the necessary permits for the construction of the South Stream pipeline, according to Prime Minister Boyko Borisov. He said it will up to Gazprom whether the pipeline is built or not.
Borisov said he has the full support and understanding of the European Union and that Bulgaria is not in the wrong and should not suffer financial consequences for stopping the project, the Bulgarian news agency BGNES reports.
Bulgaria was set to reap $600 million per year in transit fees, and investment on the Buglarian side was estimated at 3.5-4 billion euros.
Russia was originally planning to build a pipeline to Southern Europe to directly export gas, but EU legislation was used to continually delay the project. On December 1 during a visit to Turkey, Putin announced the pipeline would run through Turkey to Greece, instead of Bulgaria as originally proposed.
"Thus, our country is now able to fulfill its obligations on the preparatory activities, particularly for the offshore part of the pipeline, and to issue a building permit," Borisov said.
The Prime Minister added that, “if Gazprom stops the project, despite the permits, it will be considered guilty and not Bulgaria."
A Bulgarian government delegation reportedly planned to fly to Moscow this week to clarify the situation over South Stream construction.
Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak and the Energy Minister of Bulgaria Temenujka Petkova are expected to hold telephone talks on South Stream Friday.
On December 1 Russian President Vladimir Putin and head of Gazprom Aleksey Miller said Russia was calling off construction of South Stream because the EU had impeded the project. Instead, Russia and Turkey agreed on a new pipeline to Turkey via the Black Sea with the annual capacity of 63 billion cubic meters.
Countries involved in the project reacted immediately, saying they would suffer multibillion dollar losses. Bulgaria has been maintaining it considered the project operational and was waiting for official notification South Stream is cancelled.
Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic repeated Friday he was deeply disappointed about Russia’s decision.
“This is a project in which all of us are invested together in economic and energy terms. Serbia needs this project as it guarantees energy security for the country,” Dacic said during a meeting with Russian FM Sergei Lavrov.