Bulgarian Parliament Ratifies Agreement with Russia on South Stream
Parliament ratified July 25, 2008, an agreement between the governments of Bulgaria and Russia on cooperation in the building of a pipeline for the transit of natural gas via Bulgaria called South Stream. The agreement was ratified in a 140-47 vote with two abstentions.
The agreement was signed during the 18 January visit here of the then Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Bulgaria's interests are fully defended because the company that will develop and operate the pipeline on its territory will be with 50 percent participating interest of Bulgaria and 50 percent participating interest of Russia.
According to the opposition forces in Parliament, the ratification of the U agreement runs counter to the European view on how energy monopolies should be overcome. Also, the opposition argues that the economic benefit of the agreement has not been proven.
South Stream is a Russian-Italian project for a gas pipeline to transport Russian natural gas to Italy. The 900-kilometer-long offshore section of South Stream is to start from the Beregovaya compressor station at Russia's Black Sea coast, and to run to Bulgaria's Varna. An Italian project map shows that from there the pipeline branches to the Southwest through Greece and the Ionian Sea to southern Italy, and to the Northwest through Romania, Hungary, Slovenia and Austria to northern Italy. The maximum depth of the offshore section will be 2,000 meters.
South Stream is not one pipeline but a system of new pipelines planned to carry 30 billion cubic meters of gas to Europe annually. It will transport not only Russian, but also Central Asian and Kazakh gas. The project worth is estimated at some 10,000 million euro.
South Stream does not call off the project for expansion of the Blue Stream pipeline (a major trans-Black Sea gas pipeline that carries natural gas from Russia to Turkey) to Central Europe via a Turkey-Bulgaria-Serbia-Croatia-Hungary Apipeline. Nor does it call off the Nord Stream project connecting Russia and Germany through Finland and the Baltic Sea.
BBC Monitoring. Copyright BBC.