Bulgaria prepares to seek damages for idle South Stream assets
Bulgaria’s Cabinet was preparing to seek damages for the idled properties that were due to host infrastructure for the now-abandoned South Stream gas pipeline, with the government approving on August 26 the methodology for calculating such damages.
“To this day, Bulgaria has not been officially notified of the termination of the project to build the South Stream gas pipeline. As such, the Bulgarian state is bound to carry out its duties […], such as examining and approving investment plans, issuing construction permits and carrying out preliminary assessments for construction permits,” the government media service said in a statement.
“Failure to carry out any of these duties could lead to court litigation and financial sanctions for Bulgaria,” the statement said.
The methodology approved by the Cabinet aims to include all costs and possible lost revenue. The Cabinet will next call a tender to appoint an assessor who would evaluate the damages incurred by the state.
South Stream was meant to carry up to 63 billion cubic metres of gas from Russia to Hungary, passing under the Black Sea and then crossing Bulgaria and Serbia. Opponents have criticised it as economically unviable and pursuing political goals, namely cutting Ukraine out of the transit of Russian gas to Europe and increasing Moscow’s influence in the countries the pipeline would traverse.
The pipeline also ran into opposition from the European Commission, which refused to make an exception from its energy infrastructure regulations – which would have banned Russian state-owned gas company Gazprom from owning any stake in the project, while also requiring that third-party suppliers be given access to the pipeline.
Russian president Vladimir Putin announced the project’s cancellation in December 2014, saying the gas would be re-directed towards Turkey, but the tentatively-named Turkish Stream remains on the drawing board nine months later, as Turkey continues to hold out for a larger gas discount and appears more interested in securing gas supplies for its own economy, rather than playing a larger transit role, as envisioned by Moscow.