Russia and Bulgaria to study increase of Russian power deliveries

Jan 27, 2003 01:00 AM

Russia and Bulgaria agreed to jointly study ways to increase Russian electricity and gas exports to and through Bulgaria to south-eastern Europe. Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin and Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister Nikolay Vassilev signed a memorandum in St Petersburg creating a committee to explore setting up a joint venture between Unified Energy Systems and the Bulgarian National Energy Co. for Russian power deliveries to the region.
The protocol, signed at the eighth annual meeting of the Russian-Bulgarian intergovernmental commission on trade, economic and scientific cooperation, also calls for the two Black Sea nations to find ways to boost Russian gas supplies via Bulgaria to other nations in the Balkan region, as well as Moscow's roll in Sofia's nuclear power industry.

UES spokesman Andrei Trapeznikov said the agreement had been years in the making. "Today's event is a very important step in organizing electricity exports to countries in south-eastern Europe," he said.
"We have several offers from... Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro, which are experiencing an energy deficit. "We find these offers attractive. Russia could sell serious volumes of electricity to the region," Trapeznikov said, adding, "There are also prospects on the Greek and north Italian markets."
The agreement calls for UES and NEC to formulate a plan to increase Russian power exports to Bulgaria and present it to both governments by July. The memorandum also calls for an increase in gas export monopoly Gazprom's presence on the Bulgarian market.

The two countries agreed to discuss the perspectives of increasing Gazprom exports through Bulgaria to other nations in the region, including the construction of a gas pipeline to war-ravaged Yugoslavia and extending an existing pipeline to Greece. Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller is scheduled to discuss the project in detail during a visit to Sofia at the beginning of February.
Vassilev called for greater participation by Russian companies in the privatisation of Bulgarian natural gas companies. Oil cooperation between the two countries was also mentioned, specifically Bulgaria's interest in participating in the construction of a pipeline from its top refinery to Alexandroupolis on the Aegean Sea near Greece's border with Turkey.

The project is spearheaded by LUKoil, the largest Russian investor in Bulgaria and owner of the Burgas refinery, which is the largest in the Balkans. In a sign of increasing cooperation in the nuclear sphere, Kudrin said Moscow had extended a $ 21 mm loan to Sofia for the reconstruction and upgrading of its nuclear power plant in Kozloduy and is interested in participating in the construction of a new plant in Belena.
President Vladimir Putin said during a meeting in Moscow with Bulgarian President Georgy Purvanov that Russian-Bulgarian relations were "developing fairly intensively" but that the two countries needed to change "the structure of trade" between them. Bulgaria exported just $ 100 mm worth of goods to Russia last year but imported nearly $ 1.5 bn worth of Russian goods.
The two nations "haven't so far been able to carry out their main goal, which is to change the structure of trade," Putin said. Trade issues are high on the agenda for Putin's three-day visit to Bulgaria in March.

Source: The News
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