Bulgaria has been discussing a shorter version of its cancelled South Stream gas pipeline with the European Commission for months, Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Tomislav Donchev revealed in the most recent parliamentary control blitz questions session. Especially in the light of the suspension of the Turkish Stream due to the recent tensions between Russia and Turkey, the new plan to deliver Russian gas to the receiving terminal in the Black Sea near Varna could bring back Bulgaria into the game of how to get more Russian gas into Europe.
The plan with the receiving terminal would solve the problem of European regulations in the field of the Energy Package, which was the official reason for the EU's disapproval of the project.
"The last months there have been ongoing meetings and discussions with representatives of various structures of the European Commission in order to carry out a precise legal analysis with their help of what options would be possible according to European legislation to transit gas coming from the Russian side in the Black Sea. These discussions are still continuing, "said Donchev.
He explained that the Bulgarian side is not waiting for a change in the geopolitical situation to take such an initiative, citing deteriorating relations between Russia and Turkey.
Tomislav Donchev said the initial version of the South Stream is unlikely to be realized. What currently may be considered is a Russian pipe passing through the Black Sea to the receiving terminal near Varna. From there are two options - either Bulgaria to build a transit route through the country, partly using existing infrastructure and investing in new ones or to seek cooperation with some of the largest gas operators in Europe. Which of the two versions will be implemented will only become clear after the first part is confirmed, said Donchev.
He added that negotiations with the Russian side for such a project may only start when there is a clear position by the European Commission. "We hope this will happen as soon as possible," said the Deputy Prime Minister.