Sofia back in the pipeline
Russia and Bulgaria had some big plans for mutually developing some energy projects, but recently they hit a big snag when discord between them clouded prospects for Bulgaria’s participation in Gazprom’s South Stream natural gas pipeline project, which is scheduled to go into operation in 2015.
In fact, Moscow began courting Romania for South Stream.
But it looks like Moscow and Sofia may have patched things up, according to a report on Novinite.com. Bulgarian soil could indeed host South Stream and the two sides are discussing other big energy projects like the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline, and the Belene Nuclear Power Plant.
Perhaps this was the Russian gas giant’s plan all along, following what appeared to be a recent change of course.
The smoothing out of negotiations was announced following the visit of Russian Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov.
Bulgarian officials say that their biggest breakthrough with Moscow involves the use of existing gas pipeline infrastructure as part of South Stream, increasing the project’s overall capacity.
Thus, a total of 17 billion cubic meters of the 63 billion to be transited annually through South Stream will go through the already existing Bulgarian pipeline network. The rest of the Russian gas destined for Italy and Central Europe will go through new pipes to be laid on Bulgarian territory in east-west direction.
In addition to the transit fees Sofia could reap from South Stream’s operation, ownership of the new portions of the transit infrastructure will be split 50/50 between Bulgaria and the Gazprom consortium.