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
The first non-binding phase of the market test for the capacities of the floating LNG terminal in Alexandroupolis has generated unexpectedly high demand – more than 12 billion cubic meters in bids, which is more than double the FNLG’s planned capacity of 5.5 billion cubic meters. Twenty companies submitted intent to book capacity. In the next binding phase, the digits for capacity take-up will fall significantly, yet the message from the LNG gas market could not be more unequivocal – gas traders trust they can offer competitive prices for natural gas and gain market share in Southeast and Central Europe. In other words, they are confident that gas from the global LNG market can compete with Gazprom’s pipeline gas for the cash of customers. Another important deduced
The article first published in instituteforenergyresearch.org on 12/14/2018. On Oct. 17, 2018, Poland’s largest energy company PGNiG signed a contract with two American LNG companies to deliver up to 1 million tons of gas each over the next 20 years. It is the first large U.S. LNG contract in Eastern Europe, and it won’t be the last. Indeed, it is very likely that American LNG companies will become major suppliers to Eastern Europe in the near future. There are a number of reasons for this, both politically and economically. It is, of course, well-known that oil and gas exports, and particularly the latter, have long been used by Russian rulers as political weapons to achieve specific policy objectives—more often than not directed against Western interests. So none of this
Bulgartransgaz has recently been informed by its largest customer, Gazexport, that after 2020 it will terminate the transit of Russian gas through Ukraine, and thereby, through the Trans-Balkan gas pipeline to Turkey, Greece and Macedonia. It is still unclear whether the notification qualifies under contractual terms as legal notice served, requiring a new contract for any further arrangement, or whether it should be interpreted as advance notice for a shift of delivery point, with future gas deliveries coming via the Turkish Stream-2 pipeline. As for the quantities for use in Bulgaria itself, Bulgargas would not have a major problem, provided it can add additional delivery points in Slovakia and elsewhere. In total, the transited annual volumes over the last 12 years have varied around 16-17 billion cubic
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The news that German Chancellor Angela Merkel has bent under Trump’s pressure, deciding to spend government funds on the construction of the first German terminal for the import of liquefied natural gas, has traversed the newswire of most international news agencies. Interpretations of Merkel’s move have framed it as an attempt to avoid Washington’s sanctions against Nord Stream-2. Geostrategic bargains are part of Merkel’s move, but possibly not the core truth behind it. The fact of the matter is that it is odd for the largest EU economy and largest gas consumer in the EU not to have access via import terminals to the global LNG market. In the face of growing dependence on Russian pipeline gas, this self-imposed restraint can hardly constitute a sensible policy.
The fate of two key elements of Russia’s energy ‘streams’ strategy – the Nord and Turkish streams – will be decided this fall. The Damocles sword is hovering above both, and at any moment the U.S. government could impose sanctions that would immediately terminate both projects. Although such a scenario is probable, it is by no means certain. President Trump remained deliberately vague on the imminence of the sanctions during his recent press conference at the White House with Polish President Duda. US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry recently visited Moscow and, among various topics, discussed the sanctions options with his Russian counterpart as part of a broader, more positive package. Both Nord and Turkish Stream have reached a decisive stage, where action is desperately needed.