EU Grills Bulgaria Over Planned Legal Changes Affecting South Stream Project

EU Grills Bulgaria Over Planned Legal Changes Affecting South Stream Project

Bulgaria has received a letter from EU energy commissioner Guenther Oettinger whereby he raises some questions about planned amendments to the energy act that could affect the South Stream project, the country's energy ministry said.

EU commissioner Guenther Oettinger has been authorized by all EU member states involved in the South Stream project to hold talks with Russia on the gas pipeline construction.

The amendments have not been put to the vote yet, the energy ministry said in a press release over the weekend, adding that Bulgaria will comply with the provisions of the EU legislation.

News portal EurActiv reported on Monday that the legislation changes Bulgaria has drafted are an attempt to circumvent the third energy package as South Stream is reportedly regarded as an interconnector, not a pipeline.

EurActiv said, quoting Sabine Berger, Oettinger’s spokesperson, that “the letter sent by Oettinger was not part of a legal procedure, as these amendments were not yet Bulgarian legislation, but made it plain that the amendments tabled in the Bulgarian parliament were closely scrutinised.”

South Stream, initiated by Russia's Gazprom and Italy's Eni, aims to diversify gas routes within the European Union and to provide stable gas supplies from Russia to central and southern Europe. The onshore pipeline will connect Varna on the Black Sea to northern Italy, via Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary and Slovenia.

South Stream is planned to go on stream by the end of 2015 with a pipeline capacity of some 63 billion cubic meters per year.

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