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Bulgaria, Russia agree to create South Stream working groups
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08:00, September 21, 2009

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Bulgaria and Russia agreed Friday to create common working groups to prepare details of the "South Stream" natural gas pipeline project.

Bulgaria Economy, Energy and Tourism Minister, Traicho Traikov,and Russia Energy Minister, Sergei Shmatko, held talks in Sofia on Friday regarding the future of the South Stream gas pipeline, Belene Nuclear Power Plant and Burgas -- Alexandroupolis oil pipeline projects.

With regard to the "South Stream," Russia and Bulgaria have agreed to establish two joint working groups, one of which will work on the terms of the shareholders' agreement of the project company for the project, while the other will work on preparing the guidelines for the tender for a feasibility study, Traikov announced.

He continued that "for the Belene nuclear power plant we also reached a common understanding that the project has so far been led in a way that was not beneficial to its success and that now we need a clear and transparent financing structure - this is what we will do from now on."

"We are starting this process, by the end of it we will have a clear position on what part of the project we want to keep and what will be presented to interested investors. Russian companies will not be discriminated against in the process," Traikov concluded.

Shmatko said that a pragmatic approach should be followed in the implementation of the energy projects, with due attention being given to details.

Regarding the Belene project, financial audit of what has been done so far and the agreements signed should be carried out, Shmatko also said.

In his words, Belene is one of the best projects implemented by the Russian side. "Other European countries -- France and Germany -- have been involved in the project as suppliers and we rely to enlist their support as well," the guest noted.

He said that Russia understands the concerns of the Bulgarian public regarding the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline regarding the ecological aspects and is ready to provide to the Bulgarian side any information as may be necessary to convince the public that the project is safe.

Later on the day, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov also met with the Russian delegation, led by Shmatko.

During the meeting, Borissov said that there is openness in the Bulgarian-Russian relations regarding the work on the energy projects and from now on the society will be familiarized with any action undertaken on the part of the governments.

"What was important for us was to hear that Nabucco and South Stream are not competitive projects on the Bulgarian territory and that we are participating in both of them on an equal footing," said Borissov. "The benefit for us is that the Russian gas is transited to the Bulgarian border and many of our neighbours join this project." There will be a report on the South Stream project every two weeks, he specified.

Prime Minister Boyko Borissov expressed appreciation for "Russia's understanding of Bulgaria's concerns, its wish to have all details clearly formulated and making sure this project is in the best interest of Bulgaria."

"We have divided the project into stages in terms of technological implementation and financing," the prime minister said, adding that this will help establish the exact cost of the project and make progress.


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