Bulgaria Awaits EU Nod To Resume South Stream Work
In a move that could inflame tensions between Russia and the European Union, the 28-nation bloc's executive arm last week asked the Balkan country to suspend work on Gazprom's South Stream project pending a decision on whether it complies with EU law.
The pipeline is being built to transport 63 billion cubic metres of gas per year under the Black Sea through Bulgaria to central and southern Europe, bypassing Ukraine, as Russia seeks to cement its position as Europe's dominant gas supplier.
"We discussed the South Stream issue and the European Commission request," Oresharski told reporters after meeting U.S. senators in Sofia on Sunday, adding that Bulgaria will continue work on the project only after the EU's concernes have been resolved.
U.S. ambassador to Bulgaria Marcie Ries said on Friday that the United States was deeply concerned by Bulgaria's choice of Russia's Stroytransgaz, a consortium owned by sanctions-hit businessman Gennady Timchenko, to build the Bulgarian section of the pipeline.
"We are planning to bring up the issue during our talks tomorrow with (EU Commissioner Guenther) Oettinger," the spokesman said.
(Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Additional reporting by Lidia Kelly and Vladimir Soldtakin in Moscow; Editing by David Goodman)