Bulgarian requiem for South Stream
Baku, Azerbaijan, Jan.23
By Emil Ismayilov - Trend:
After the Russian rejection of the South Stream project we became witnesses to interesting events that unfolded around the issue of gas supplies to the European market.
Among these events, one can list the start of negotiations between Russia and Turkey on the subject of the implementation of the so-called Turkish Stream, discontent among the participants of European camp themselves, and now we have the statement of Bulgaria about its intention to continue work on the South Stream project, which they justify by the absence of a formal notice about the termination of pipeline construction.
From the outside it may seem absurd that the European Commission insists on compliance with the requirements of the third energy package. Russia refuses to implement the project and is in talks with Turkey, and Bulgaria continues to build the South Stream as if nothing has happened.
Such a statement by the Bulgarian side can be perceived as reluctance to accept the fact that the country will not be able to play the role of a transit country for Russian gas that would have promised it great benefits.
On the one hand, Europe needs Russian gas, as there is no alternative to such large volumes yet.
On the other hand, does the EU want to receive gas directly from Russia, or will it be content with the mediation scheme? In general, nothing will change other than the fact that the gas will go through Turkey, and not through Bulgaria.
Assuming that Turkey will buy gas from Russia and re-export it to Europe, in fact it will remain Russian gas.
The expression: "The more things change, the more they remain the same" applies in this situation. You can change the way it is delivered but it is still Russian gas and the sides can continue to avoid direct contact and confrontation however, Europe's dependence on Russian gas, albeit indirect, will remain. In this case, the choice is up to the European buyers. Things are changing however, and real choice will be available in the near future.
In the mean time, Russia is actively pursuing the Turkish direction. Russian Sberbank expressed readiness to finance the construction of the Turkish Stream gas pipeline, which is currently at the stage of development.
Now while the Turkish Steam is just an idea for the present, the Southern Gas Corridor is a reality, thanks to namely Azerbaijan that will open a window for the 'blue fuel' of the Caspian Sea to Europe. Although, currently, there are no talks about the huge volumes of gas, this corridor has great opportunities and prospects for attracting additional volumes.
Bulgarian "Bulgar gas" is one of the buyers of Azerbaijani gas from the Shah Deniz field, which will enter the European market in early 2020 by way of the Southern Gas Corridor. So, it would be advisable for Bulgaria not to expend energy on reviving a 'dead' project, but to focus on the real gas supply route - Azerbaijan-Europe.
Edited by CN
Emil Ismayilov is Trend Agency's staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @Emilsmail