Correspondent's Choice

The following story about the Gazprom pipeline was published by EurActiv on 19th February 2010.

Bucharest has given Russian gas monopoly Gazprom all the documentation relevant for building the South Stream pipeline through Romanian territory, it was announced yesterday (18 February). The move appears to give flesh to a recent Russian threat to eliminate Bulgaria from the project.

“The Romanian party confirmed the interest in participating in the South Stream project and provided the Russian party with the data requested earlier and required to prepare a feasibility study for a possible pipeline route across Romania,” a Gazprom press release announced.

Few details have emerged and it remains unclear if the pipeline would now simply feature an extension from Bulgaria to Romania, or if plans to move the pipe north exclude Bulgaria. In recent weeks, Romania has been under strong pressure from Gazprom to join the pipeline project, as a possible alternative to Bulgaria. Sofia is indeed seen by Moscow as a problematic partner under the new centre-right government of Prime Minister Boyko Borissov.

“As far as Romania is concerned, I would like to say that no country with serious intentions as to its participation in South Stream will be left aside,” Gazprom’s executive director for exports, Alexander Medvedev, recently told the Romanian press.

“Romania has a wonderful strategic location on the Black Sea and could be the point of departure for the European section of the pipeline,” he added. Until now, planned the point of departure had been the Bulgarian port of Varna (see ‘Background’).

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