The European Union will continue to focus on building up gas grid connections between member states in the wake of Russia’s announcement of the cancellation of the South Stream pipeline, with Bulgaria, Greece and Romania signing a joint statement of intention to build a ‘vertical corridor’ connecting the three countries.
The statement was signed on December 9 following the meeting between European commission for energy union Maros Sefcovic and energy ministers from seven EU member states in Central and South-eastern Europe. Ministers from Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Italy, Romania and Slovenia attended the meeting – reports before the meeting said that Hungarian officials were to participate as well, but the country was not mentioned in the EC media statement.
All eight countries were affected to some degree by Russian president Vladimir Putin’s announcement on December 1 that Moscow would scrap the South Stream pipeline because of EU’s insistence that the project adheres to EU rules, with Bulgaria’s failure to issue a construction permit singled out by Putin as the immediate cause to cancel the pipeline. (Romania is the one country not participating in South Stream, but an agreement between Austria’s OMV and Gazprom would have made possible the shipping of gas extracted by OMV on the Romanian shelf in the Black Sea using the pipeline.)
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(Photo: Jayesh Nair)