Visiting Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov told his Bulgarian counterpart Kristian Vigenin that the South Stream pipeline should be excluded from the scope of the EU's Third Energy Package and that talks between Moscow and Brussels on the issue resume, the Sofia news Agency (Novinite.com) reported.
"The EU Commission has already made a derogation regarding a number of other gas pipelines. We consider that the EU's approach will be reasonable," the news agency quoted Lavrov as saying, pointing to the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) as a recent example. The Third Energy Package cannot include agreements that were signed before it entered force, he stressed.
The planned South Stream gas pipeline will carry gas from Russia to central and southern Europe via Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary and Slovenia, reaching its full capacity of some 63 billion cubic metres (cu m) per year by 2017. The total value of the Gazprom-spearheaded project is estimated at some 16 billion euro ($21.8 billion).
In June, Bulgarian prime minister Plamen Oresharski said Bulgaria was halting the construction of the South Stream section on its territory until the project is aligned to EU law. The Bulgarian authorities had earlier received a letter of formal notice from the European Commission, asking the country to suspend the project's implementation as it runs counter to EU legislation.