Bulgaria looks to speed-up work on South Stream pipeline
BY SEAN CARNEY
SOFAI -- Bulgaria will work to overcome delays in launching construction of South Stream, the planned natural gas pipeline being built in cooperation with Russia's Gazprom, the country's Energy Minister said Monday.
"This year we should have the final development plan, [an] assessment of the environmental impact, [the] technical design and [will] apply for a building permit. Since there is some delay, we will intensify our work," Dragomir Stoynev said after meeting in Sofia with Alexey Miller, chief executive of the Russian company.
South Stream will ship roughly 63 Bcm of Russian natural gas across the Black Sea to Bulgaria and then further west into other countries in the European Union.
"The project is now being implemented with some delay [but] there is no doubt that the first gas will arrive in Bulgaria in December 2015," Mr. Miller said in a statement provided by Bulgaria's prime minister's office.
The project is set to be the main pipeline to southern Europe, as the competing Nabucco pipeline project, that was favored by the European Union, failed at the tender stage.
Delays in launching work on the pipeline's more than 500 km-long Bulgarian section were in part due to the country's right-leaning government falling in February. The new Socialist-led government took office at the end of May.
Bulgaria, as the EU's poorest member state, won't be an investor pipeline project but will get a 50% stake to be paid for later with revenues from transit fees.
Mr. Miller said the Russian side will finance the project and that Bulgaria doesn't assume any risks associated with the financing of the construction of the pipeline.
Bulgaria gets all of its natural gas from Russia.