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25.04.2014 14:35
Bulgaria and Europe to Continue Talks on South Stream Gas Pipeline Project
The European Commission (EC) has been in doubt that the construction and planned amendments to the Bulgarian Energy Act related to South Stream are breaching European regulations, including the third energy package

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Bulgarian minister of economy and energy Dragomir Stoinev presented crucial paperwork on the South Stream gas pipeline project to the Eurppean commissionaire on energy Gunther Oettinger. Stoinev met with Oettinger and competition commissionaire Joaquin Almunia on Thursday to discuss legal aspects of the planned construction of South Stream. The European Commission (EC) has been in doubt that the construction and planned volumes allocation scheme of South Stream are breaching European regulations, including the third energy package. South stream will bring Russian gas to Europe via the Black Sea entering EU territory at the Bulgarian coast near the city of Varna.

For the purpose of the pipeline’s construction a new term – “sea gas pipeline”, has been introduced in amendments to the Bulgarian Energy Act. The text stipulates that the so called marine part of the pipeline in Bulgarian waters is to be excluded from EU rules forbidding gas producers to also own gas transmission infrastructure. The changes in question have been passed on first reading and are to be further discussed.

Minister Stoinev and commissionaire Oettinger have agreed on scheduling another meeting before the second reading of the amendments.


Stoynev: Bulgaria respects the EU laws

“During the meeting I presented to commissionaire Gunther Oettinger sufficient information testifying that Bulgaria has in no way breached the European legal framework with changes to the Bulgarian Energy Act related to the construction of South Stream’s offshore part. We have already presented the EC with the protocols signed by the Bulgarian Energy Holding (BEH) and Gazprom. We have followed the EU laws for these protocols”, minister Dragomir Stoinev said after the talks in Brussels on Thursday.

Stoinev stated that commissionaire Oettinger “might have been wrongfully informed by the political opposition in Bulgaria about the legal changes to the Energy Act regarding South Stream” with the idea that South Stream’s construction could be stopped in a similar way to the suspension of the Belene nuclear power plant project which was scrapped in March 2012.

Minister Stoinev however insisted that South Stream that no such plans for quitting South Stream existed, adding that the project is important not just for Bulgaria, but for a string of European countries and their gas supply diversification.


EC: Rules apply to all member-countries

Following the Oettinger-Stoinev meeting, the office of the energy commissionaire issued a statement re-affirming their long-running position that the European legal framework applies to all types of infrastructure falling under EU jurisdiction, including infrastructure in Bulgaria’s waters of the Black Sea.

“If South Stream is constructed in violation of EU laws on public procurement, or if it will be operated in violation of EU laws, the Commission will take the necessary actions to guarantee EU legislation will be applied”, Sabine Berger, spokesperson of commissionaire Oettinger stated, as quoted by the Bulgarian National Radio. 

Berger reminded that the EC has already notified Bulgarian on several “grievances” regarding the bilateral agreement between Bulgaria and Russia, as well as regarding similar agreements between Russia and the other countries participating in the project. Oettinger’s spokesperson stressed that the EC has been authorized to lead the re-negotiation of these agreements with the Russian side in order to guarantee that they comply with the EU legal framework.

TAGS: Bulgaria | EU | European Commission | South Stream | gas | pipeline | third energy package | Bulgarian Energy Act | Black Sea | Gunther Oettinger | Gazprom 

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