Russia’s agreement with Bulgaria on the South Stream gas pipeline to Europe did not resolve a key sticking point -- Russia’s use of Bulgaria’s gas infrastructure, a senior Russian official said on Wednesday.
“That issue has not been resolved,” Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, who oversees Russia’s energy sector, told Reuters on the sidelines of an economic conference.
A final version of the deal, which was hammered out by Russia and Bulgaria on Monday, is due to be signed in weeks, the prime ministers of both countries said after talks in Moscow.
But it has not been decided whether Russia will need to spend billions of dollars building new pipelines through Bulgaria, a proposed transit country for gas to Europe, or whether it will get to use Bulgaria’s existing pipelines.
“The important thing is that we got them to agree to participate in South Stream,” Sechin said. “The rest will be worked out at the company level,” he added, referring to further talks between Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom and Bulgaria’s national energy company.
On Monday, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said all disagreements over South Stream had been resolved with his Bulgarian counterpart, Sergei Stanishev. They did not clarify, however, the use of Bulgaria’s gas transit network. Sechin participated directly in Monday’s talks with Bulgaria. (Reuters)