Bulgaria halts construction of Gazprom-led natural gas pipeline South Stream

09 June 2014 13:49 Source:ICIS

On Sunday Bulgaria halted construction on its section of the South Stream natural gas pipeline, following pressure from the European Commission.

The country’s prime minister Plamen Oresharski said he ordered the delay and that the project would only continue after concerns from Brussels were addressed.

Oresharski revealed this as part of a joint press statement with a delegation of US senators, including John McCain.

This decision follows a request from the commission last Tuesday to halt construction, due to concerns over compliance with EU rules ( see ESGM 3 June 2014 ).

Bulgaria has always insisted that its portion of South Stream will adhere to EU legislation, with Oresharski reiterating this just a couple of weeks ago ( see ESGM 28 May 2014 ).

The commission has previously expressed concerns over the tendering process for construction of the pipe, as well as the legality of international government agreements for the project ( see ESGM 9 December 2013 ).

EU unbundling regulations state that new pipelines must not be managed by the supplier of suppliers using the infrastructure, which in the case of South Stream is Russia’s Gazprom.

Last month Russia notified the World Trade Organisation of a request for consultations with the EU regarding the Third Energy Package, which was the first step to instigating court proceedings ( see ESGM 6 May 2014 ). Ben Samuel

By Ben Samuel