Russian and Bulgarian Energy Ministers Sign Joint Statement on South Stream

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Russian and Bulgarian Energy Ministers Sign Joint Statement on South Stream

Bulgarian Economy and Energy Minister Peter Dimitrov and Russian Industry and Energy Minister Viktor Khristenko signed a joint statement for construction of a new transit gas pipeline through Bulgaria, Dimitrov's Ministry announced on Thursday. The Bulgarian Minister is on a two-day visit to Moscow on an invitation by Khristenko, BTA reports.

Dimitrov said that he hopes the intergovernmental agreement on the so-called South Stream project will be drawn up to coincide with President Putin's visit to Bulgaria in January 2008. He added that the joint project will make Bulgaria one of Southeastern Europe's most important transit hubs for energy supply.

Bulgaria has a large interest in the pipeline, which will raise profits gained from transit charges and guarantee gas supplies to Europe, Dimitrov further said. The pipeline will reach Austria in the north and Italy in the south and will carry a total of 30 million cubic metres of gas annually.

Dimitrov undrscores the importance of getting guarantees that the pipeline will be used at its full capacity.

He also said that the project is not an alternative to other projects and that all contracts with Russia for gas supply and transit will remain in force until 2030.

Dimitrov and Khristenko also discussed the construction of the Belene nuclear power plant in northern Bulgaria, whose main contractor is the Russian company Atomstroyexport. The project is pending EU approval and Dimitrov said that preliminary information does not give cause for concern about its approval.

Minister Dimitrov also met the Chairman of Gazprom's Management Committee Alexei Miller on Thursday. Aside from South Stream, the future oil pipeline between Bourgas and Alexandroupoli in
Greece was also discussed, as was further development of Bulgarian-Russian cooperation in the gas and oil industries, Gazprom's information service reported.

Gazprom recalled that Russia has been exporting natural gas to Bulgaria since 1974 and that in 2006 Gazprom supplies amounted to 3,200 million cubic metres. Currently, the company is
Bulgaria's only foreign gas supplier, and transits gas through the country to Turkey, Greece and Macedonia.

Dimitrov also met with Rosatom President Sergei Kirienko.

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