Transit Countries Back Eastring
Slovakia's economy minister Peter Ziga and Bulgaria's deputy energy minister Zhecho Stankov have signed a memorandum of understanding on the Eastring pipeline. Both sides consider it to be “an important launch of the process of expressing support for the project, which is expected to lead to its effective implementation,” the official statement of Slovak economy ministry said July 13.
Eastring is to connect Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Slovakia, taking gas in either direction, with the planned capacity of 20–40bn m³/year – more than enough to meet the demand of those countries, even at the lower end of the range.
It could either be a new pipeline combined with the maximum possible use of the existing capacity in Romania and Bulgaria, or it could be a completely new pipeline from Malkoclar on the Bulgaria-Turkey border up to Velke Kapusany, an existing compressor station on the Slovakia-Ukraine border and reception point for some of Russia's exports.
Eastring is one of the most important projects to achieve the EU objective of diversification of transport routes and enhancement of energy security in central and southeast Europe, contributing to energy security and to the diversification of natural gas supplies to Europe, according to Ziga.
“The memorandum represents the actors´ expression of political support for the project at the highest level. By signing the declaration we have sent a positive political signal to enhance its position within the projects of common interest (PCI) competition and presented a good argument for obtaining co-financing at the European level,“ said Ziga. “We will call upon other participating countries to express the same kind of support at the highest political level,” he added.
“We will cooperate and exchange information related to Easting and identify all intergovernmental and other agreements that required to enter the project into a binding phase”, the Bulgarian energy ministry said.
Easting is positioning itself as an alternative of Russia’s scrapped South Stream project, bringing new gas from the Caspian region through southeast Europe to western Europe and contribute to the integration of gas markets.
Shippers will be able to supply Balkan countries and Turkey from European hubs and it will be ready for future gas imports to Europe from well-established and also alternative sources: the Caspian region and the Middle East.
The MOU between Slovakia and Bulgaria was signed in the framework of the informal council meeting of energy ministers held in Bratislava which had been organised under the Slovak presidency of the Council of the EU.
Financing the Energy Union
EU energy and climate change ministers also discussed sustainable financing and governance of the Energy Union. They agreed that energy and climate change policies are closely interlinked, and hence strengthening the cooperation among member states in this area is a precondition for effective functioning and reaching Energy Union objectives.
“We agreed that governance and its structure must have strong foundations. Only then we can build an effective and truly functioning Energy Union and reach climate and energy objectives set by the EU in the areas of greenhouse gas emissions reduction, energy efficiency increase and share of renewable energy sources,“ Slovakia's economy minister said in a separate statement.
The EU energy ministers discussed energy prices and their impact on EU competitiveness. “They emphasized that each state has the right to choose appropriate measures for reaching climate and energy objectives in accordance with the principle of technological neutrality,” Ziga said.
Ministers also discussed the contribution LNG might make to EU energy security. They agreed it was important to build intra-European infrastructure so that deliveries of LNG are available for all EU member states.