Илиян Василев

Member of the Board of the Center for Balkan and Black sea studies, Managing Partner, Innovative Energy Solutions EOOD, Blogger, Honorary Chair, Bulgarian Economic Forum Coordinator, Sofia Business School
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bulgargaz

  Bulgaria’s natural gas monopoly has finally announced in public its intent to buy natural gas in the second quarter of 2019 for its needs using an open and competitive procedure. This is the official narrative, at least what Bulgargaz is trying to sell to the public. The volumes are more than modest – 22 million cubic meters in April and 62 million cubic meters in May and June. That is nothing dramatic, yet the management and the government media use the opportunity to trumpet a major shift in Bulgaria’s longtime allegiance to Gazprom, as the country remains the sole SEE state with a near total dependence on Russian gas.   The national gas company, Bulgargas, has long been accused of acting as a Gazprom proxy with Stockholm syndrome, refusing

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gasprom-bulgargaz

  Bulgartransgaz has been noticeably absent from the public debate around the fate of South Stream-turned-TurkStream-turned-Balkan Stream, a project than can be summed up with the lone common denominator, ‘Borissov’ Stream.   Consider the arguments. We are told that the TSO, Bulgartransgaz, is facing an existential threat – bound to lose money as Gazexport dries up transit via Ukraine and consequently via Bulgaria. That is a valid argument insofar as there is no alternative or plan B, and the threat is imminent, credible and verifiable – i.e. gas transit cancellation via Ukraine is a given. Yet both hypotheses are speculative in varying degrees.   Since January 21, 2019, Gazprom and Naftogaz have been negotiating, with the help of the European Commission, a new ten-year gas transit contract through Ukraine. The

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europa

  Brexit, beyond a doubt, shatters profound internal balances within the European Union and heightens Germany’s dominance. This is not necessarily good news, judged against the backdrop of the original EU design of carefully sustained balances that offset big countries’ dominance. The German unification in the 90s tilted the scales, initially more as a matter of perception than a tangible fact. On the one hand, Berlin was overwhelmed with internal unification challenges, while on the other hand, the influence of the United States and Britain counterbalanced German domination.   Many years have since passed, and the present day balance has shifted dramatically. Internal traction has declined and centrifugal forces have increased, with there being consecutive crisis peaks in the Eurozone. An accumulation of consecutive destructive impacts generated a perception of

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Снимка: nevidimite.blindspot.bg

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Credit: Wikimedia Commons/ Huw Williams

  The Canadian Climate Leadership Council recently proposed a plan that was supported by 27 Nobel laureates in economics and other business dignitaries, calling for the introduction of a national carbon tax starting at $40 per ton of carbon dioxide. The base argumentation used was primarily economic efficiency and climate fatalism. The underlying logic seemed closer to abstract academic theory than sound economic reasoning. More has been happening recently, with an obvious reference being made to Brexit, as politicians tend to lead the public without a clear understanding of the costs and consequences, jumping into reckless actions while lacking trustworthy and elaborate impact assessments and risk analyses.   Canada is one of the zealot countries, diehard supportive of climate change policies and the Paris accords. Ottawa has been on the

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Vladimir Putin and Vladislav Surkov / photo: obozrevatel.com

  Vladislav Surkov has enlightened us on the state of mind at the Kremlin. He has been on and off at the top of Putin’s confidants’ list, yet his current status is nowhere near the peak of his influence, some 15 years ago, when he was perceived as the guru in Putin’s entourage, akin to Mikhail Suslov in the Politburo of the Soviet Communist Party. Those days are long gone, and the article published in Nezavisimaya Gazetta, although carrying some weight and deserving attention, does not go far enough to challenge the perception of a falling star.   The title, The Deep State of Putin (Dolgoe Gosudarstvo Putina), would certainly prompt analytical work in the Russian and Western media, much like in the old days of the Soviet Union, when

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borissov

  Electricity price hiccups over the last two months seemed timely to attest the required price assumptions for the financial model of the Belene NPP. These days, prices have returned to normal levels, but the idea of higher electricity prices, at par with revenue projections, gained some ground – ostensibly the free market at work.   There is a lot in common between the procedural patterns behind the Belene NPP and the Balkan Gas Hub. Most of the activities only nominally happen in the open – formal tender procedure, the rite observed, the end – terms agreed in advance. There is no true competition, no market interplay, no real public scrutiny, just political expediency.   Summarizing the main features of the applied policy line in pursuit of a lighter version

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gaz

  For the first time in more than 15 years, Ukrainian gas has been exported to the EU. On January 30 this year, a small private company, TAS Energia Krainy, managed to sell gas to Slovakia. Volumes are indicative of a test mode, but the fact of the transfer is of great importance.   First, the story is clear proof that Ukraine has successfully resolved domestic gas challenges, due to growth in indigenous gas production and diversified imports, enough to ensure a strong liquidity base for market liberalization and export potential.   Second, the transaction happened in high winter season, which suggests self-confidence and mature levels in capacity and the supply market. The cross-border sale is not referenced to the more common long-term, but to short trade that can track

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Foto: Tanjug/Tanja Valić

  The purpose of this analysis is not to follow the chronicle of events, the media coverage and the reflections on President Putin’s visit to Belgrade, but to deliberate on its ‘net present value’ — what is its net impact and net worth as a trend.   For all the hype and grand talk, the practical value is negligible, well below what both presidents Putin and Vučić ascribe to it. There is plenty of symbolism and posturing, but Russia’s real geostrategic agenda is not identical to what Vučić presents as national interests to the Serbian audience.   Belgrade faces a dramatic dilemma – on one side, a possible date of entry into the EU of 2025, which seems increasingly chimeric, yet the only sensible option, as all neighbors are either

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tok 1

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