Russia’s intergovernmental agreements with countries participating in the South Stream gas pipeline project will be finalized with the European Commission’s mediation by 2016, Russian Ambassador to the EU Vladimir Chizhov told Russian reporters on Wednesday in the run-up to the 32nd Russia-EU summit that will be held in Brussels on January 28. An intergovernmental working group headed by RF Deputy Energy Minister Anatoly Yanovsky and head of the European Commission’s Directorate General for Energy Dominique Ristori has already been created to this end.
Chizhov recalled that Russia since 2008 had concluded intergovernmental agreements with all the countries through the territories of which the gas pipeline would run — including Serbia and six EU countries — Bulgaria, Hungary, Greece, Slovenia, Croatia and Austria.
“The European Commission has been pretending for quite a while that it has heard nothing about South Stream. Then, at some stage, receiving from the related countries copies of these agreements, the European Commission stated that all of them failed to comply with the EU Third Energy Package norms, that is, they should be denounced or revised. In the end, these six countries collectively asked the European Commission to undertake negotiations with Russia, to which European Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger agreed,” Chizov said.
“However, there is yet time to find a solution: the gas pipeline construction will go on until 2016,” he said.
“In essence, this situation only confirms the fact that the Third Energy Package is ‘a yoke around the neck’ of the European energy industry, above all. No wonder that EU major energy companies, launching large-scale energy projects, try to do everything possible to get exemptions from this system. It is our stance that South Stream and other cross-border energy projects in principle do not fall within the Third Energy Package,” the Russian ambassador stressed.
Chizhov also said that Russia and the European Union had managed since the end of 2012 to remove disagreement on exemptions from the Third Energy Package on the OPAL gas pipeline — a gas distribution network in Germany to which the Nord Stream pipeline is connected.
The total rated capacity of South Stream during the first year of operation will be equal to some 16 billion cubic meters of gas, and then it will reach 63 billion cubic meters per year. At present, its construction has started in Bulgaria and Serbia, and Hungary will be next.