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Bulgaria, Russia to Iron Out South Stream Road Map by July 16

Date: 09.07.2010

Bulgaria and Russia will sign an agreement settling all questions about the construction of the South Stream gas transit pipeline on July 16.

This has been announced by Russian Deputy PM Viktor Zubkov in Moscow Wednesday, after he was on a special visit to the Bulgarian capital Sofia on July 6 to discuss with the Bulgarian leadership the large-scale joint energy projects such as South Stream and the Belene NPP as well as other issues such as the price of Russia natural gas for Bulgaria.

The agreement to be signed between Bulgaria and Russia in Sofia will take the form of a Road Map delineating the responsibilities of each side for the energy project.

“All questions are to be resolved from now on according to the road map that we proposed. It will be signed on July 16 in Bulgaria,” announced Zubkov, who is also the Chair of the Gazprom Board of Directors, as cited by ITAR-TASS.

He did not specify who will be the officials to sign the document by made it clear that they will be sufficiently high-level.

The Deputy PM of Russia said also that his trip to Sofia was successful but that there had been tons of questions to be discussed with the Bulgarian PM Boyko Borisov and the Cabinet about the energy projects.

“All questions were discussed in a constructive manner for several hours. We believe that the Bulgarian side has expressed total understanding, and it was confirmed by the Prime Minister that Bulgaria is participating in South Stream,” stated Zubkov.

ITAR-TASS also quotes the Bulgarian PM Borisov as saying that Bulgaria and Russia are going to double or triple the profits from the future South Stream pipeline by settling in the most sensible way their disputes.

He has pointed out that Bulgarian experts are going to Russia on Thursday to continue the talks and that the South Stream gas pipeline should become operational in 2015.

Speaking after his meeting with Zubkov in Sofia on Tuesday, Borisov declared that Bulgaria and Russia still had to decide on whether and how to use the existing pipelines on Bulgarian territory as part of the South Stream project. He said the existing pipes will most likely be used with the exception of the 90 km of pipes between Provadia and Kardam in the northeast (currently the route for the import of Russian gas to Bulgaria) as the South Stream pipeline will go straight to the Bulgarian Black Sea coast near Varna.

The currently existing Russian natural gas transit for Turkey and Greece will continue to run through Bulgaria using the existing infrastructure, while all Russian gas coming from the doubling of the capacity of South Stream (63 billion cubic meters per year, as opposed to 32 billion originally) will go to Eastern Europe.

The Bulgarian partner in the project will be Bulgartransgaz, a subsidiary of the state gas company Bulgargaz.

The South Stream pipeline is supposed to deliver Russian natural gas through the Black Sea and Bulgaria to Greece and Southern Italy in the south and to Central Europe and Northern Italy in the northwest.

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