Bulgaria's parliament adopted in principle amendments to the Energy Act aiming to exclude the Bulgarian offshore section of the planned South Stream gas pipeline from the scope of the EU's Third Energy Package, the Bulgarian National Television (BNT) reported.
The Third Energy Package regulates third-party access to gas transport infrastructure in the EU. Under the bill, the 24-kilometre Bulgarian offshore section of the pipeline would have the legal status of a facility which does not step on EU territory. Last week Bulgaria's energy ministry said it received a letter from EU energy commissioner Guenther Oettinger whereby he raises some questions about planned amendments. Bulgaria will comply with the provisions of the EU legislation, the ministry added.
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. 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.
The other amendments which Parliament adopted ban energy supply cuts before weekends or during holidays, and waive the reconnection fee. Parliament also decided that clients have the right to contest electricity bills which are over 50% higher than the average for the previous six-month period, and to delay their payment until the issue is settled. Another amendment allows the energy regulator to review electricity prices on a quarterly basis.