Views:2382
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

Views:3987
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

Views:3009
WB Summit 1

  The ratification of the Macedonia name deal between Athens and Skopje on Friday capped a year in which the West renewed its focus on integrating the Western Balkans into the Euro-Atlantic community.   Bulgaria factored into the renewed push to integrate the region into NATO and the EU because Sofia made Western Balkan integration a focal point of its European Council presidency that spanned the first half of 2018. Sofia capped its EU presidency by hosting the EU-Western Balkans summit last May. The summit was a high-level gathering of EU and Western Balkan leaders, the first of its kind in 15 years.   Now that 2018 is complete and the Macedonia name dispute has been settled, one can have a clearer look at the fruits of Bulgaria’s push to

Views:6053
Pipeline

  The cuts to transit tariffs for use of the Ukrainian gas transmission network, which were announced during the final days of 2018, are a major event that was undeservedly kept out of the media spotlight.   The reductions of nearly 50% are simply a downward correction but send a message.   Here are some corners in the analysis.   The first suspected casualty would be the revenue projections for the Ukraine circumvention projects. Their business logic has been substantially compromised, while the key argument Merkel and Putin continue to use is that the Nord Stream is “just business.” The direct costs of Nord Stream-2 so far are below $10 billion and, accounting for the extra funds spent on gas fields and infrastructure development on Russian territory, the bill skyrockets

Views:7046
TurkStream1

The consequences of the choices the Bulgarian government makes on the scale and direction of the infrastructure upgrade to accommodate future flows it intends to service will be long-term. The issue at stake is whether the country will become a fully integrated member of the EU gas market, implementing key elements of the EU’s gas strategy and North-South – the Baltic to the Aegean Sea – interconnectedness, or replay the old adage of acting as proxy to Gazprom gas in the EU.   The crisis in the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait, among other alerts and triggers, echoes a repetitive soundbite in Russian foreign policy – Ukraine should not be trusted as a transit country, thereby Russia’s circumvention ‘streams’ serve the EU’s best interest. There is little doubt

Views:10507
Бурмистрова и Медведев

  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

Views:10830
South Stream Lite

  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.

Views:5193
turkish stream

  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

Views:4575
putin-gotce1

  The System Spill over   By proximity, Bulgaria mirrors Russian autocratic tendencies, including mimicking the state oligarchy model. Unlike Russia, however, the Bulgarian version can’t be sustained on “natural” resources – oil, gas, nuclear fuel-based wealth. Redistribution can be effectuated on added value and GDP growth, or thereafter on the budget accumulated taxed economic output. Bulgaria’s autocracy has limited margins for self-propelled growth and wealth sharing, which implies greater reliance on grand corruption mechanisms.   The Kremlin’s GDP sustains its dynamics even on holidays as the oil and gas industry turns round the clock. Bulgarian GDP, however, must be generated and incomes earned.   In Russia, the population exhibits extreme patience, willing to accept sacrifice in the name of “stability” (note the overlay in the jargon of the ruling

Views:4424
ERDOGAN

  The news from Ankara these days ascertain an important segment in President Erdogan’s drive for global prominence as he is borrowing heavily from President Putin’s guide for autocratic leaders. Yet it is hard to see how he will be able to profit from the Kremlin’s recipes, lacking the tsar’s resources and insatiable pool of social patience.   Russia has been seeking to build on the rifts within NATO and US-Turkish relations by enticing Erdogan into a pool of geopolitical tradeoffs and gambles.   Putin’s attempts to undermine the EU and the US are persisting. The chance to help Turkey steer away from NATO’s mainstream and turn into its weakest element seems up for grabs.   President Putin is visiting Turkey this week to talk over a new strategic framework