In a recent interview with Sputnik, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said that Belgrade hopes for Russia’s assistance in the construction of a transit gas pipeline from on the Serbian-Bulgarian border.
“We will have to construct a downstream pipeline on the border with Bulgaria, either ourselves or with the Russian help. This means that we will be able to receive 9.8 billion cubic meters gas at the border. The pipeline will branch towards the Republic of Srpska, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Pristina, and Croatia. And we will collect the transit fee,” Vucic said on Sunday.
According to him, the plan can be implemented if a gas hub in Bulgaria is constructed.
“When they (Bulgarians) build this hub somewhere on the way toward Varna, the gas will head for Sofia and from there – to Serbia,” Vucic said.
The president added that, if implemented, the project could provide Servia between $114 and 171 million in revenue a year.
“I think it would be very useful for Serbia, especially in case Gazprom does not sign a new agreement with Ukraine in 2029, which means that we will be left without gas. In that case, this pipeline would be the only way for gas reach [Serbia],” Vojislav Vuletic, the president of the Gas Association of Serbia, told Sputnik.
According to Vuletic, shipments of United States-produced liquefied natural gas (LNG) will not be able to meet the demands of the European market.
“This idea will not work for Europe. The German government understands this. This is why Berlin wants the North Stream 2 project to be implemented. As an industrial power Germany needs gas,” he said.
In mid-June, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that there was no need for a separate mandate for the European Commission to negotiate North Stream 2 with Russia. The European Commission continues to remain politically opposed to the project though.
The expert added that Serbia is capable of building infrastructure for the possible pipeline project in Bulgaria in two years but Belgrade wants guarantees from Brussels.
Economist Bozo Draskovic says that energy is the number one political issue. This is why Bulgaria was pressured into abandoning the South Stream project.
“It is unclear whether Bulgaria will be able to protect its own economic interests, instead of serving the political interests of a third party. There are certain political risks involved with the project we’re talking about. Of course, such a pipeline would be very important for Serbia. First, it would reduce the transit of gas coming via Ukraine and Hungary. Second, it would boost Serbia’s position as a regional player,” Draskovic said.
There are two possible scenarios for a second leg of the Turkish Stream, including the pipeline stretching either through Greece to Italy or via Bulgaria to Serbia, according to Sergei Pravosudov, director of the National Energy Institute.
(Sputnik News, 05.07.2017)