Subscription and demo access


 
About Interfax
Press Releases
Products & Services
Contact us
Customer Login
 


Headlines
 

12/10 18:32   Chairman of State Duma international affairs committee considers 'McLaren report' in light of Western attempts to mire Russia's image
 
12/10 18:02   Non-OPEC countries discussing possible oil output cut of 635,000 barrels per day, but no final figures known yet
 
12/10 17:49   Belarusian Information Ministry sees reports by some Russian media as insulting Belarusian people
 
12/10 17:21   Bank accounts of Marchukova sisters seized in case of embezzlement of Nota Bank depositors' money
 
12/10 16:40   Russian energy minister urges oil producing countries to reach consensus on balancing oil market (Part 2)
 
12/10 16:28   Russian nurses killed in Aleppo buried with military honors in Birobidzhan
 
12/10 16:07   Coal self-ignites in Karaganda coal mine in Kazakhstan, miners evacuated
 
12/10 15:55   Crimea may be connected to Russian gas transport system by end of 2016 - Russian Energy Ministry
 
12/10 15:38   Ukrainian govt forces shelled over 30 times in Donbas in past 24 hours - military operation HQ
 
12/10 15:04   Azerbaijan's territorial integrity to be restored - foreign minister
 



 Subscription
You can access a demo version of, recieve more information about or subscribe to Interfax publications by filling in and sending the form below.

First name:


Last name:


Company:


Division:


E-mail:


Phone:


Country:


City:


Please enter the digits in the box below:

 

Interfax.com  |  Interviews  |  Poptchev: South Stream ‘will benefit’ from third-party access rules



Interviews


May 19, 2014

Poptchev: South Stream ‘will benefit’ from third-party access rules


Peter Poptchev is a Bulgarian diplomat and recently served as adviser to the country’s minister of economy and energy. He was part of the Bulgarian negotiating team for both the South Stream and Nabucco intergovernmental agreements (IGAs). In this interview, he tells Interfax that Gazprom’s South Stream project will benefit from the EU’s Third Energy Package (TEP).

By Annemarie Botzki.

Interfax: How will EU energy policy influence the gas sector in the next few years? 

Peter Poptchev: In terms of gas, European energy policy has so far mostly succeeded in the established markets of Western Europe. It is still struggling to extend the principles and rules of the internal energy market (IEM) to member states in central and southeast Europe, as well as countries that are part of the Energy Community. 

Not much institutional attention has been paid to the fact that the weakest economies in the EU are paying the highest gas prices. 

The growing dependence of Europe on external sources of gas, be they Russian or non-Russian, has not been tackled in a strategic way. 

Interfax: After the elections, how do you see a new European Parliament and Commission affecting energy policy? What priorities do you expect them to set in the energy sector?

PP: The new parliament and commission will have energy security high on their agendas. The Ukraine crisis has revealed a recurring tendency to use energy for geopolitical and strategic purposes.

Also, Europe’s energy transformation will not be a smooth and straightforward process because of the unpredictable nature of eurosceptic and nationalist parties in the parliament, and the incomplete status of the IEM. Some of the elements of the European energy union will be adopted.

Development of gas interconnections and underground storage facilities in central and southeast Europe will be accelerated.  

An emphasis on developing the Southern Corridor will take the form of closer and more strategically motivated relations with producer and transit countries in regions neighbouring Europe and further away. 

Transatlantic strategic energy cooperation will receive a new boost. Russia will continue to be treated as Europe’s major energy supplier, albeit with more caution and subject to intra-EU coordination.

Interfax: As the EU seeks to diversify its energy supply routes, is there a new case for Nabucco? 

PP: Nabucco took a long time to mature. Nabucco West was structured so that it would serve two strategic purposes: to stimulate the development of new cross-border gas infrastructure in central and southeast Europe and supply these markets with Caspian gas; and to bring sufficient additional gas to increase the trading power of Baumgarten, Europe’s major physical hub and trading platform. 

The case for Nabucco was obviously weakened after OMV signed a memorandum of understanding with Gazprom on a new South Stream pipeline to Baumgarten. 

This pipeline will have a capacity of 23 billion cubic metres per year by 2018 – which was exactly the intended capacity of Nabucco West in its 42-inch diameter version. 

In other words, Baumgarten could be deemed satisfied. But there might be pressure to go back to the other promised goal: namely, Nabucco West’s strategic outlook of freedom of choice and diversification for European gas consumers.

Interfax: Do you expect South Stream to have to comply with third-party access under the TEP?

PP: South Stream should comply with the TEP. This is the best that could happen to Gazprom – and to any new Russian gas companies – because of the large share of the single market Russian companies will have in the foreseeable future. 

In fact, any development of South Stream outside an agreed political, technical and legal framework to be negotiated between the commission and Russia would render the project uneconomic. 

With the deterioration of relations between Ukraine and Russia this has become even more obvious than before. South Stream could become as strategically important to the EU as Nord Stream and the Southern Corridor. 

Strategic partners – such as Russia and the EU – do not ’impose‘ economic projects on each other; they negotiate until both sides’ respective interests are fully covered. South Stream is not there yet. 

Interfax: How could the signing of Ukraine’s EU association agreement (AA) affect Russian-EU relations?

 

PP: Russia’s instinctive reaction has been to prevent Ukraine orienting itself towards the EU. On the other hand, the EU has shown it can reliably offer Kiev all the necessary political, economic and financial support to enable Ukraine to freely choose its affiliations. 

It will take years, perhaps decades, for Ukraine to reform and to qualify for EU membership. Russia cannot prevent a close cooperation between the EU and Ukraine within the framework of an AA. 

Interfax: So you don’t expect European integration for Ukraine to move forward?

PP: Not easily, and not soon. Ukraine has to undergo profound reforms – societal, economic and institutional – before it can qualify for a fully fledged AA and then move onto becoming a potential EU member. 

Europe will impose strong conditionality; the same approach will be applied to all the EU’s prospective ‘eastern’ partners and other potential applicants. 

Interfax: What potential is there for gas in the Crimean region?

PP: Until about five years ago, Conoco-Phillips had a licence to explore a shallow offshore field. Then, suddenly, the Ukrainian government of [former Prime Minister Yulia] Tymoshenko took the licence away and gave it to Gazprom. No exploration and production developments have been reported since.

There are shale deposits and possibilities for drilling near the Crimean peninsula on the mainland. However, all companies’ undertakings have been interrupted because Ukraine’s new minister for natural resources and the environment is opposed to shale gas. This is expected to change soon.

Interfax: Developing Ukrainian shale would compete with Russian gas – could that affect relations between the two countries?

PP: Ukraine is a relatively large user of gas, consuming more than 50 bcm/y. Presently, Ukraine produces around 20 bcm/y. There are sound opportunities to increase domestic production from its shale gas deposits, which are among the richest in Europe.

This will make the Ukrainian economy more competitive and much more independent from Russia. However, in the short term, the crisis will slow down business. It also relates to the conditions under which South Stream will be implemented. 

Interfax: Central European states have lobbied for United States LNG imports. Could this help diversification? Is it realistic? 

PP: Logistically, it is perfectly feasible and, under certain commercial conditions, economically viable. Greece and Lithuania are planning FSRUs. Poland, Croatia and Ukraine are constructing onshore terminals. Italy, Turkey, Greece and Spain already have LNG terminals. Reloading LNG shipments is a growing business in Europe. 

So, if US or Qatari LNG imports become competitive – meaning a price of around $10/MMBtu – LNG could help diversify central and southeast Europe’s supply, beginning in the next one to three years. 

The EU is developing a re-industrialisation strategy. In many respects, this will be more feasible if gas becomes more affordable to industrial consumers. LNG will be part of the solution, especially after Japan ceases to import so much gas and returns to its broad reliance on nuclear power.

Interfax: Can Bulgaria’s import dependence be reduced?

PP: Bulgaria’s high dependence on Russian gas can hardly be reduced in the short term. Bulgaria does not have alternative suppliers. The first volumes of Caspian gas are contracted for 2018-19. 

Plans to build four interconnections – linking the Bulgarian gas transmission system to Greece, Romania, Serbia and Turkey – have been delayed for a number of years by successive governments. 

So, if supplies through Ukraine were cut off, Bulgaria’s only option would be to get gas from Greece – but no proper reverse flow is possible there unless certain technical improvements are made. 

Production of the country’s own gas is feasible in the next three years or sooner, both on- and offshore.  



Interviews
 

.
Head of the delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Russia, Belarus and Moldova Magne Barth has explained the position of the ICRC on interaction with Russian military in Syria. Earlier the Russian Defense Ministry called the ICRC reaction regarding the death of two Russian medical workers in a strike on a Russian military hospital in Syria’s Aleppo cynical.

more
.
.
President of the International Committee of the Red Cross Peter Maurer has given an interview to Interfax correspondent Alexander Korzun ahead of his visit to Russia on November 23-25, in which he speaks about topics he would discuss with Russian officials, his assessment of ICRC interaction with Russia, and problems that the organization faces in Syria and Ukraine.

more
.
.
Palestinian National Authority head Mahmoud Abbas has given an interview to Interfax ahead of a visit of Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to Palestine, in which he speaks about Moscow‘s effort to organize Palestine-Israeli negotiations and prospects of an international conference on the Middle East settlement and expressed hope that Russian President Vladimir Putin will in the near future visit Palestine.

more
.
.
Rose Gottemoeller, who is serving her final days in the post of U.S. Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security and who will soon leave for Brussels, where she will take the position of NATO Deputy Secretary General, has given an interview to Interfax correspondent Ksenia Baygarova, in which she speaks about Moscow‘s recent decision to suspend the Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement.

more
.
.
George Papadopoulos has been one of U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump‘s foreign political advisors since March 2016. Prior to this, he was an advisor to Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon and Republican Party member who dropped out of the presidential race. Papadopoulos previously worked for various research institutes dealing with global politics. His sphere of interest is global energy. Papadopoulos has given an interview to Interfax‘s correspondent Ksenia Baygarova in which he discusses his views on U.S.-Russia relations, the Syrian crisis, NATO expansion and the dependence of the EU on Russian energy. Papadopoulos noted that his opinion does not necessarily coincide with that of Trump.

more
.
.
U.S. co-chairman of the OSCE Minsk Group James Warlick, who has recently visited Moscow, has given an interview to Interfax‘s foreign political desk editor-in-chief Olga Golovanova in which he speaks about Washington‘s perception of the prospects of the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement.

more
.
.
Indian Ambassador to Russia has given an interview to Interfax in which he speaks about the current state of Indian-Russian relations and India‘s position on Afghanistan settlement.

more

 
  
 ©   1991—2016   Interfax Information Service. All rights reserved.
contact information   |   Interfax offices   |   made by web.finmarket

News and other data on this site are provided for information purposes only, and are not intended for republication or redistribution. Republication or redistribution of Interfax content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Interfax.

Browse other Interfax sites:  Interfax.ru   |   IFX.RU   |   Interfax Group   Rambler's Top100