The South Stream project that was supposed to carry gas under the Black Sea to central and southern Europe was cancelled recently by Russian President Vladimir Putin who will turn to Turkey instead to continue the project. Despite the fact that Bulgaria will no longer be involved in the project, Bulgarian officials have declared that they support its development and that the South Stream pipeline will continue to bring benefits to the country in the form of transit fees. Bulgarian companies operating in the energy field will most likely not be influenced by this change.
Bulgaria is not at a loss
Although the South Stream project might have brought some economic advantages to Bulgaria, some officials believe that the country will be in a better position if the pipeline will not cross its territory directly. Even without the collaboration with Russia, Bulgaria will still benefit if the European Union decides to continue the project on its own and resurrect the European Nabucco pipeline (meant to carry gas from the Bulgarian-Turkish border to Austria) that was cancelled due to the competition initiated by the South Stream pipeline.
European officials gathered this week in Brussels to discuss the South Stream situation and decided what the next steps would be if the EU decides to continue the project without Russia. Energy ministers from Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovenia, Austria, Croatia, Italy, Greece and Romania were called for the informal meeting.
Bulgaria is in a favorable position no matter what the future discussions will bring - either the resurrection of the Nabucco pipeline or the resurrection of the South Stream project will bring economic benefits to the country because it would have to collect transit fees.
Reasons to abandon the project
One of the main reasons Russia has to abandon the South Stream project was related to the decrease in oil prices in Europe and the decrease in consumption. Other than this, Russia did not manage to come to a conclusion with the European Union which has said that the project does not observe its principles for the liberalization of the energy market.