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Bulgarian Media Reports 'South Stream' Project Renewal, But Govt Denies

Meanwhile Moscow still considers the project 'halted'

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This article originally appeared at Novinite

Russia is set to continue with the South Stream pipeline project in a matter of few weeks, a Bulgarian mass circulation daily has reported.

Bulgarian PM Boyko Borisov is quoted by Standart as telling the news to people from "his closest circle" and adding exalted: "Now everybody will see whether Erdogan is good and Boyko is bad!"

But the Bulgarian National Television says the government's press office denied reports that South Stream is to be renewed.

Russia's Energy Ministry meanwhile announced South Stream was still considered a "halted" project.

At the end of 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin annouced the suspension of South Stream, pledging to replace with with a pipeline to Turkey instead.

However, with the latest spat between Moscow and Ankara afer the downing of a Russian Su-24 fighter-bomber, Turkish Stream and other major projects between the two countries have been brought to a halt.

"The reanimated South Stream project will comply with the conditions of the Third liberalization package [of the EU Commission], sources familiar [with the project] argue."

"The project fits completely into the idea for the construction of the gas distribution center "Balkan" near Varna, a project supported by Brussels which without Russian gas would be absolutely unthinkable," it goes on.

It was non-compliance of South Stream with the Third Energy Package that prompted the EU Commission to apply pressure on Bulgaria, with the latter refusing to issue permits for the pipeline's construction days before it was to begin in December of 2014. Gazprom had particular objections against the EU rule that a gas company cannot also own the infrastructure used to transport it.

The Balkan gas distribution center for its part was put forward by Borisov after the cancellation of South Stream, with the Prime Minister stating his ambition to turn Bulgaria into a "regional hub".

Standart's reports have also been carried by Russian TASS news agency and a number of Russian media outlets.

"Two international factors are pushing Moscow to renew the South Stream project," Standart writes. It firstly cites both tensions over the fighter-bomber and Russia's anger at Turkish demands for lower gas prices.

As a second reason it points to problems with the Power of Siberia pipeline, a large project that would deliver trillions of cubic meters of gas to China.

Late last year Gazprom scrapped a major construction tender, and reports linked the development to a domestic scandal, but according to Standard the slowdown of the Chinese economy is focing Russia to "postpone" the project.

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