Let us state the publicly known facts and try to assess the business merits of the deal. Bit by bit, slowly and systematically, so that even non-experts can understand. We have a standing valid gas transit contract between Gazexport and Bulgartransgaz, using the current Trans-Balkan Pipeline, until 2030 with “secure” revenues of $ 1.2 billion. This is not the total contract amount, just the ‘ship or pay’ segment, accrued until the end of the contract. This is regardless of whether Gazprom decides to end transit through Ukraine, to take up alternative routes through Turkey, Germany or the North Pole. Cash in hand. Or almost. Giving up on these receivables is a condition sine qua non, set by Gazprom, if we want to enter into the new venture
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This is the key line Russian President Putin used at the plenary session of the International Arctic Forum, which was instantly relayed by all Russian media, mainly by TASS, Russia Today and Sputnik. There is nothing new in this vintage Russian propaganda, which is echoed by pro-Russian politicians in the EU – Russian gas is indispensable and the cheapest gas in the world, while US-sourced LNG is expensive and inferior in quality. EU budgets, he asserts further, will have to compensate European consumers for the price difference between US LNG and pipeline gas from Russia. Even if one sets aside the basic fact that the budgets of EU countries and that of the Russian state are profoundly different in structure, the EU legal and regulatory bases make it
My favorite Russian diplomat is Ambassador Chizhov. He tops my rankings as the most outspoken Russian diplomat on a range of hot topics in EU-Russia relations. He is entrusted by the Kremlin to challenge the EU on its home turf each and every time the European Council, the European Commission or the European Parliament passes a motion that affects Moscow’s interests. One clear mark of President Putin’s personal trust in him is the fact that Vladimir Chizhov is spending his record 14th year in office as Russia’s Permanent Representative to the European Union. He did not waste time in reassuring Russians and Russia’s friends and partners that the amendments to the EU Gas Directive passed by the European Parliament on April 4th, amending key regulations for gas pipelines
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
Growing energy rivalry in the region – a catalyst for development or geopolitical crisis? The first gas exploration of American oil leader -Exxon Mobil in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Cyprus, officially announced on Friday (November 16th), has also set a new stage in the energy and political development of the Eastern Mediterranean region. Although far from real results – finding /or not/ of hydrocarbon deposits, the launch of the American company has already managed to restore the usual “hot spot” status of the region, putting an end to the short quiet interval, when in February Turkish warships forced the platform of the Italian company Eni to leave the offshore zone of Cyprus. Exxon Mobil explorations have already changed the dynamics of the geopolitical scene
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
The article first published in americanthinker.com on 11/02/2018. For more than two and a half centuries, human kind has lived under an irreconcilable dichotomy – the benevolent revolution we call the enlightenment, and the inevitable reactionary counter-revolution that followed it – a dichotomy that has continued to our days. The enlightenment introduced a number of revolutionary concepts that demolished the church dogma that had dominated the Middle Ages. It established reason and empirical knowledge as the source of authority leading to the scientific revolution beginning with Copernicus and the heliocentric theory of the universe. In government, the enlightenment brought about the radical idea of individual liberty with John Locke’s call for “life, liberty and property.“ The revolution reached its apotheosis in the late 18th century with the American Constitution and its
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 speculative interpretations on the secretive nature of the trip of Gazexport’s top managers to Sofia last Friday, beyond doubt, will build up due to the total absence of facts and details. This is an inevitable consequence as one compares the media frenzy around the visits of the top brass at Gazprom to the country on previous occasions. To begin with, the decision to keep the meetings with Bulgartransgaz secretive reflects the content and the range of topics covered. The classic is: both sides need to agree to keep the exchange out of the public record. Gazprom and BTG, as hosts, have no interest in disclosing details, as the negotiations cover a very sensitive topic – the extension of Turkish Stream through Bulgaria. Two events have marred the