Putin Says Russia Ready to Extend Turkish Stream Pipeline to Bulgaria
"We are ready to build it [Turkish Stream] in a volume enough to supply gas via Turkey to the European Union," state-run news agency ITAR-TASS quoted Putin as saying. "If it is possible from the logistics point of view, we are ready to go further to Bulgaria - the European Commission is already asking us to do that; we are ready to go to Greece."
"If they [the European Union] don’t hamper, a section of the South Stream might be implemented via Turkey, including using our joint ventures with Hungary, Serbia, we can go to Austria - everything is possible should our partners show interest in cooperation," Putin also said.
Russia will be guided by considerations of logistics in choosing partners in this project - "where it will be more economical, more profitable," he added.
The Russian president also said Russia had never dropped South Stream-related plans. "We simply were forced to close this project, they [the EU] did not let us implement it," he commented.
In December Putin said Russia is abandoning the project to build the South Stream pipeline, which was planned to carry gas from Russia under the Black Sea, making landfall in Bulgaria and then continuing through Serbia and Hungary towards Austria, and would build another pipeline system - Turkish Stream - to Turkey instead.
In June the Bulgarian government halted the construction of the South Stream gas pipeline after the European Commission said it runs counter to to EU law. The total value of the project, spearheaded by Gazprom, was estimated at 16 billion euro ($18.1 billion). Commercial operation of South Stream was scheduled to start by the end of 2015 with the pipeline reaching its full capacity of some 63 billion cu m per year by 2017.
SEE is heavily dependent on Russian gas imports to meet its needs. After the termination of South Stream, Bulgaria, Romania and Greece committed in December last year to develop a vertical gas corridor, connecting the three countries, while Bulgaria sent a letter to the European Commission proposing to build an EU-funded regional gas hub near the Black Sea port of Varna to dispatch Russian gas deliveries to the rest of Europe. Parallel to that, Bulgaria and Serbia decided to update the parameters of and expedite work on a gas interconnector linking the two countries.