Following talks with Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Gazprom was “working out in practical terms” the construction of a second gas line stretching from Turkey to Bulgaria for Turkish Stream, which is intended for the transit of Russian gas through Turkey to the countries of Southeast Europe, reported the newspaper Kommersant.
Initially, Gazprom was considering two routes – one through Greece to southern Italy (nicknamed the Poseidon project), the other through Bulgaria to Serbia and Hungary.
It was after a decision by Bulgaria that the South Stream project was cancelled in December 2014.
“I understand and see that the Bulgarian side regrets the breakdown of the South Stream project because no one doubts that its implementation would have been very beneficial to Bulgaria,” Putin said.
He noted that he “has always” discussed with the Turkish authorities the possibility of securing a second Turkish Streamline through Bulgaria and that “yesterday, Turkish President Erdogan confirmed this again during our phone conversation.”
“We are working it out in practical terms with Turkish friends, with Bulgarian friends – I know that certain transport capacities are being built on the territory of Bulgaria. To what extent [and] at what prices…economic entities should already be determining this because there are many purely commercial [and] economic issues that should be attributed to their competence, “Putin said.
Boyko Borisov, for his part, thanked Vladimir Putin for the fact that he “has no ill will” regarding the lost revenues with the South Stream. Putin stated that Russia wants guarantees from Bulgaria.
“We understand, and the Bulgarian side understands this perfectly well, that guarantees are needed when implementing projects on a large scale; most notably financial guarantees, which could be expressed either as sovereign guarantees by the Bulgarian government or in relevant decisions by the European Commission. Another thing: everyone understands that nobody wants a repeat of some kind of breakdown; everyone, on the contrary, wants to go forward, “he said.
According to the publication, Russia sees investment in the development of the Bulgarian gas pipeline network as a guarantee for the acceptance of Turkish Stream gas and its further delivery to Serbia.
Russia had planned to build the South Stream gas pipeline, which would have delivered natural gas to the Bulgarian city of Varna. In December 2014, however, Moscow curtailed work on the project because of the position of the European Union.
Instead of the South Stream project, Russia instead focused on a separate gas pipeline project with Turkey called Turkish Stream. The Turkish Stream’s first line is planned for commissioning in 2018; the second, which it is intended to supply the countries of South and South-Eastern Europe, is expected to enter operation in 2019.