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The emerging ruling coalition in Germany might be experiencing hiccups when it comes to agreeing on complex issues, but the Nord Stream-2 project has proven a consensual ground. The German government has formally objected to the EC-proposed amendments to the EU Gas Directive citing trivial protectionist arguments atypical for a nation that pretends to lead the EU. The German government’s interpretation of its support for the Nord Stream-2 is that it is not defending Gazprom’s, but Germany’s own national interests, implying that German and Gazprom interests — Russia’s — are identical and run counter to the European Commission embodied shared interests. This is essentially Berlin’s bottom line – EU is dear to us, but when it comes to cash – our interests rate higher. There is nothing fundamentally
The daily Vedomosti published an article on Turkish Stream, quoting Foreign Minister Lavrov on the need for direct EC guarantees and second rating bilateral agreements, signaling rising nervousness at the Kremlin with the project advance. It is a most revealing moment for what Russia and its main energy pivot – Gazprom – can afford these days in defying market gravity, while leveraging the Kremlin’s geostrategic moves. Russia’s gas monopoly admitted in June that it is unable to raise project financing – neither in Russia, nor abroad. The new sanctions left Gazprom without a choice but to tap into its own pocket – the 2017 capex program. Banks and investment funds ignored Gazprom’s request, fearing project uncertainty and US sanctions. The investments associated with Turkish Stream this year, according
The need to move beyond the Balkan Gas Hub “Russia-only” or “Russia-mainly” paradigm seems indispensable if the ‘hub’ project – in the broad sense – has any chance. The talk of billions of cubic meters of natural gas from non-Russian sources deserves a serious look to the north, but mostly to the south – The Southern Gas Corridor. Yet what seems logical to everyone, does not inspire the management of the TSO of the Bulgarian gas system. The fact that none of these routes – TANAP, TAP or the Greek-Bulgaria Interconnector – contain specific numbers for potential gas flows makes things seem pre-ordained. The BGH essentially seems to be conceived as a redistribution center for Russian gas. The likelihood of non-Russian gas emerging both at the
Quod licet Jovi, non licet bovi. The Balkan gas hub has become synonymous and in many ways a substitute for Bulgaria’s energy policy in the field of natural gas. In order to avoid speculating about the concept’s different variations, hereinafter is the official project draft, as presented by the national TSO, Bulgartransgaz, with a price tag above USD 2 billion. Although this might not be the latest update, as it does not fully accommodate developments from Turkish Stream, the map is a fine departure point for an analytical exercise, explicitly demonstrating the virtues and the shortcomings in the conceptual design and implementation phase. The key question is – what does Bulgaria strive to achieve? To begin with, the country’s energy policies should not
A little noted two-liner in the newsfeed from Moscow sent shivers down the spine of gas experts – it means a lot both for Russian energy policies and for the EU’s energy market. The lines read that the interdepartmental commission on national security in economic and social affairs with the Security Council of the Russian Federation has decided to recommend the Russian Government revoke Gazprom’s monopoly on export of Russian gas to Europe. This commission has consultative functions with the Security Council and reports to the Secretary of the Council Nikolay Patrushev. There have been many instances in the past of attempts from different business quarters in the Russian capital to press the government to allow more Russian gas producers to directly export their gas. The final say,
No wonder German, French and British energy companies grumbled upon the release of the new version of S.722 – the legislation expanding US sanctions on Iran and Russia. In part for a good reason – there were nuances, which the US Senators failed to address in the original version. As Russian and Iranian companies hold shares in Shah Deniz – 2 (NIOC and Lukoil own 10 per cent shares) a verbatim application of the provisions of the US sanctions act would have essentially blocked the Shah Deniz project and the whole Southern Gas Corridor. In the new draft, the sanctions apply only to companies and projects where Russian companies hold at least a 33% stake. This change was expected as many governments, companies and the EC
One of the greatest challenges we face today is to understand the trends and reap the benefits of change in a rapidly evolving world. Just a decade ago, leaders in south and southeastern Europe believed that breaking away from Gazprom’s monopoly meant they needed to connect to the Caspian Sea gas finds. The second phase of the Shah Deniz-2 project was considered the Holy Grail of energy independence for SEE countries – a belief that led to the strategic project of the Southern Gas Corridor, the development of the second phase of the Shah Deniz gas field and the construction of costly transport infrastructure, worth in total more than $45 billion. In the original plan these investments were meant to be recovered via gas sales with 9
Two events overshadowed the geopolitical landscape on the eve of President Trump’s visit to Poland to attend the Three Seas Initiative Summit. The TSIS is a joint Polish-Croatian project, launched in 2016, with the aim of strengthening trade, infrastructure, energy and political cooperation among countries bordering the Adriatic, the Baltic and the Black seas. Twelve countries are members: Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Croatia, Slovenia and Austria. The fact that the American President will preach the case to CEE leaders for US LNG imports comes as no surprise, yet there is a hidden context and a more complex backdrop against which both the expectations and the deliverables of the visit should be judged. The Case for US LNG gas Washington has
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