Russian energy giant Gazprom will hold talks with Bulgaria in January on the implementation of the project to build the South Stream gas pipeline, the Russian energy minister said Thursday.
"There are very positive dynamics in cooperation with Bulgaria on the South Stream implementation. In January, a round of talks between Gazprom and its Bulgarian colleagues is planned," Sergei Shmatko said.
The statement came after talks between Sergei Shmatko and his Bulgarian counterpart Traicho Traikov, during which the sides discussed energy projects, including the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline and the Belene Nuclear Power Plant.
Shmatko and Traikov also considered the issue of natural gas supplies to Bulgaria.
Russia and Bulgaria are jointly developing a range of energy projects, such as the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline project, the South Stream gas project and the building of a nuclear power plant in the Bulgarian northern town of Belene.
Russia, Bulgaria and Greece signed an agreement to build the 280-km Trans-Balkan pipeline to pump Russian and Caspian oil from the Bulgarian port of Burgas to the Greek port of Alexandroupolis in 2007. The pipeline project is controlled by a consortium of Russian state-run companies.
In early December, the Russian energy minister said Bulgaria's concerns over the environmental impact of the oil pipeline construction may pose problems for the project. He said Bulgaria is also unhappy with the project's economic scheme, as Sofia wants to receive more than just dividends from the project.
Russia signed an intergovernmental agreement on the South Stream gas project with the Socialist-led Bulgarian government in January 2008, and in May 2009, Russia's Gazprom and state-run Bulgarian Energy Holding (BEH) agreed to set up a joint venture on a parity basis to build the Bulgarian section of the South Stream pipeline by mid-2010.
The South Stream project, designed to annually pump 31 billion cubic meters of Central Asian and Russian gas to the Balkans and on to other European countries, involves Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Italy and Greece. The pipeline's capacity could be eventually increased to 63 billion cubic meters annually.
The gas pipeline is expected to start operating in late 2015. The project is part of Russia's efforts to cut dependence on transit nations. It is a rival project to the EU-backed Nabucco, which would bypass Russia.
In early 2008, Russia's state nuclear power equipment and service export monopoly Atomstroyexport signed a contract worth around 4 billion euros ($5.8 billion) for the construction of the nuclear power plant in Bulgaria's Belene.
MOSCOW, December 24 (RIA Novosti)