EU Asks Bulgaria to Stop Work on Gazprom's South Stream Pipeline


BRUSSELS/SOFIA, June 3 (Reuters) – European Union authorities have asked Bulgaria to suspend work on Gazprom's South Stream gas pipeline on the grounds that the project breaks EU law, a step that threatens to inflame tensions between Russia and the 28-country bloc.

The latest move against Moscow, announced by the European Commission on Tuesday, follows progress late on Monday towards resolving a pricing row that has threatened to disrupt Russian gas shipments via Ukraine.

As conflict rages following Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region in March, Russia has forged ahead with its giant South Stream conduit that would pump gas to the EU, bypassing Ukraine.

But the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, says South Stream breaks EU rules that prohibit gas suppliers from also controlling pipeline access and it has put on hold the approval process for the project.

Bulgaria, historically close to Russia and heavily dependent on its gas, has decided to start construction as a national priority.

"Whilst discussions with the Bulgarian authorities are taking place and until there is full compliance with EU law, we have asked the Bulgarian authorities to suspend the project," Commission spokeswoman Chantal Hughes told Reuters.

She also said the Commission had sent the Bulgarian authorities a letter of formal notice asking for information, a preliminary measure that could eventually lead to full infringement proceedings and possible fines.


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Ruslan Zakirov | Jun. 3, 2014
Thats a very smart move! Getting independence from Russian gas brings a lot of benefits to Europe: leaving Bulgarian people without the job, having to pay cancellation/late delivery fines, risking freezing EU countries in winter without Russian gas and energy generation capacity losses, consequential increase of utility bills for people and companies, and the biggest ticket is an opportunity to pay much more for the US-produced gas (obviously tanker shipment is more expensive than pipeline transport). Plus, Russia is already working on sending its gas to China. So, if this deal with South Stream is busted, they will concentrate of Chine-bound gas supply with more capital investment. I am afraid that this will result in the situation that all China demand will be satisfied by Russians and giant Prelude and Gorgon projects will stay without its target market. How would the stakeholders recover their costs? With BRICS on global economy map it is really dangerous to play such games without thinking 3-4 steps ahead.

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