October 3, 2008

Bulgarian Government Committed to Energy Deals With Russia – Premier

Text of report in English by Bulgarian national news agency BTA

Sofia, 3 October: The government continued the practical implementation of the agreements which Bulgaria has on a bilateral basis with Russia - above all, in the field of energy and the building of a new nuclear power plant at Belene, Prime Minister Sergei [Sergey] Stanishev said during Question Time in Parliament on Friday [3 October].

A strategic partner has already been designated for the Belene Nuclear Power Plant - the German company RWE, Stanishev said. The Bour [Burgas-Alexandroupolis] oil pipeline project and the South Stream gas pipeline project will increase Bulgaria's energy independence, he said.

He noted the interest of Bulgarian companies in taking part in the construction of Olympic facilities in Sochi.

Bulgaria can be a very important constructive factor in elucidating relations between NATO and Russia and the EU and Russia and in ensuring stability in the Black Sea region, the prime minister said.

Natural gas prices in Bulgaria are growing due to the increase of international prices. The prices of natural gas are formed as a result of oil prices, but Bulgaria has a strong advantage over the long term, consisting in guaranteed supply and transit of gas until 2030, Stanishev said.

He said that the agreement with the Russian company Gazprom was concluded after difficult and contradictory negotiations, but the result is positive as it takes into account the balance of interests of the two countries.

Bulgaria does not lose but gains from its agreement with Gazprom on natural gas supply, Economy and Energy Minister Peter Dimitrov told journalists later in the day. His statement comes after MPs of the opposition claimed that Bulgaria's agreement with Gazprom is disadvantageous.

The bottom line is that by changing the agreement with Gazprom in 2006, Bulgaria gains 15,900m dollars, Dimitrov said. He described as anti-Bulgarian the statements that this agreement is a losing one and called on those who speak about it to rest on facts, and not on the desire for political dividend.

The agreement on gas supply to Bulgaria cannot become public, because when signing it in 1998, the then minister of regional development and public works Evgenii Bakurdjiev [Evgeniy Bakurdzhiev] accepted a clause whereby this can be done only upon the written consent of the other side, Dimitrov said. He said that to Gazprom it is disadvantageous to disclose at what price it sells natural gas to Bulgaria.

Originally published by BTA news agency, Sofia, in English 1338 3 Oct 08.

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