Skip to Content

Gas pipeline infrastructure. Photo supplied

Europe’s energy under threat

An ongoing Bulgarian legal circus is threatening Europe’s energy diversity.

Published: August 14, 2019, 8:01 am

    In times of global challenges in many respects – from climate change to economic and political uncertainty, Southern Europe is facing another serious threat. It is a threat to its energy security, which may lead to serious cross-national tensions and dramatic consequences for Europe.

    One of key contributors to this threat is the political and economic crisis in Ukraine. This country, riddled by endemic corruption, political division and a raging war in its rebellious region of Donbass, is in the process of forming a new government in the aftermath of parliamentary elections held in mid-July.

    Ukraine is of crucial importance as an energy corridor for Europe. Its inability to deal with domestic problems and guarantee its role as reliable transit hub, together with an uncertain future facing its contractual obligations with Russian supplier Gazprom, present a real threat for the coming winter months.

    The scourge of Ukrainian corruption and private interests of oligarchs that have taken precedence over public interests seem to be spreading to other countries of Europe. Bulgaria is yet another fresh victim of such corruption.

    The reason why these irregular activities have taken root, is because the Bulgarian leg of the Turkish Stream natural gas pipeline extension was supposed to become one of the main routes for gas supply to Southern Europe, contributing to the diversity of gas supplies to Serbia, Hungary, Croatia and other countries of the region.

    The 480km pipeline will run between Turkey and Serbia across Bulgaria, offering an efficient route for gas transit and reducing the dependence of the region on transit of gas from Ukraine.

    However, its quite possible that this particular pipeline will not see completion until 2021-2022. The reason for the delay is continued and bitter legal disputes between Bulgartransgaz and the ARKAD consortium, led by Arkad Engineering from Saudi Arabia.

    The story behind this lawsuit is quite a peculiar one. ARKAD won the tender for construction by offering the lowest price, which came as a surprise to ARKAD’s opponents from the Gas Development and Extension in Bulgaria (GDEB) consortium. ARKAD had offered to build the 474,7km expansion for 1,1 billion euro by the end of 2020, compared to 1,6 billion euro offered by its rival.

    The most likely reason for ARKAD’s victory was assistance from politically connected Bulgarian oligarchs. Despite the success of the tender, Bulgartransgaz and Arkad Engineering were unable to sign a contract because the Saudi firm did not provide all the paperwork required by law, despite several postponements granted by Bulgartransgaz.

    In the meantime GDEB told Bulgartransgaz that it was prepared to offer a 31,1 percent discount on the price it originally offered to match ARKAD’s price. Given those factors and the importance of the project, Bulgartransgaz said that it was amending its initial decision and awarded the construction contract to the Bonatti-Max Streicher consortium.

    ARKAD acted quickly and filed a complaint against Bulgartransgaz’s decision to disqualify it as winner to the Bulgarian competition authority.

    CPC, the anti-monopoly body tasked with ruling on public procurement disputes, said that Bulgartransgaz’s decision was unlawful because it did not meet the legal requirements necessary for the company to modify its tender award decision.

    In early July, the GDEB Consortium appealed the CPC’s decision before the Supreme Administrative Court, reopening the legal dispute. As result, the construction will be delayed. The delay on the Bulgarian section means Gazprom will only be able to use TurkStream to ship its gas to Bulgaria and from Bulgaria to Greece, Macedonia and Romania via the existing network.

    For the time being, Serbia, Hungary, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia will therefore still remain entirely reliant on the Ukrainian route. Lack of transparency in the tender process have left many wondering what happened to a clear and transparent project that was supposed to deliver gas to their homes and keep them warm in winter.

    The bigger strategic issue is however whether the EU is indeed committed to diversifying its energy supply routes in order to reduce dependence on unreliable political factors. One would expect that the EU’s new leadership will take corruption in the energy sector very seriously and adopt a position of zero tolerance against insider shady deals, which negatively impact the lives millions of Europeans.

    Keep ​your language polite​. Readers from many different countries visit and contribute to Free West Media and we must therefore obey the rules in​,​ for example​, ​Germany. Illegal content will be deleted.

    If you have been approved to post comments without preview from FWM, you are responsible for violation​s​ of​ any​ law. This means that FWM may be forced to cooperate with authorities in a possible crime investigation.

    If your comments are subject to preview ​by FWM, please be patient. We continually review comments but depending on the time of day it can take up to several hours before your comment is reviewed.

    We reserve the right to del​ete​ comments that are offensive, contain slander or foul language, or are irrelevant to the discussion.

    Europe

    World Population Foundation: Africa needs more contraceptives

    NairobiThe managing director of the German Foundation for World Population (DSW), Renate Bähr, has called for stronger measures to limit population growth in Africa on the occasion of the World Population Conference in Kenya.

    US threatens Serbia with sanctions over S-400 purchase

    BelgradeWashington is threatening Serbia with sanctions to stop the country from buying Russia's advanced S-400 air defense missile systems.

    Leftwing Italian daily inflates number of anti-Semitic attacks

    RomeA report on the issue is clear: The data used by a newspaper on the hot topic refer to 2018, not to 2019 and 197 anti-Semitism episodes per year, not 200 per day.

    Chisinau Forum: Arnaud Develay on the Rule of Law in the age of Imperial Collapse

    ChisinauThe Chisinau Forum aims to bring together those who feel compelled to preserve the flickering light of sovereignty and national independence in their respective countries, says Arnaud Develay, an international lawyer at the Washington and Paris bar.

    Le Pen denounces march against Islamophobia ‘with Islamists’

    ParisAccording to the president of the National Rally, the personalities who associated with the march against Islamophobia, including Jean-Luc Mélenchon, carry "a very heavy responsibility" and will have to "respond to it when the election comes".

    French Senator warns of globalist-engineered ‘Great Replacement’

    ParisAs a result of a mass migration agenda engineered by anti-Western elites, the French people are being replaced, warned Senator Stéphane Ravier.

    Migrants in Bosnian town ‘are everywhere’

    In the Bosnian border town of Bihać, the situation has become dramatic. Bihać is a transit station for migrants on their way to Central Europe, mostly to Germany.

    Italian Interior Minister reveals Libyan stranglehold on illegal immigration

    RomeThe Italian government's memorandum with Libya has shaken up the political debate, mainly because it has revealed the extent of Libyan leverage on Italy.

    Chanteloup-Les-Vignes: scenes of urban violence directed at France

    YvelinesAn immigrant justified the urban violence in Chanteloup-Les-Vignes, saying it was the right way to attack French authority.

    German migration researcher expects immigrant share of 40 percent

    According to the Berlin migration researcher Herbert Brücker, the proportion of citizens with foreign roots in Germany will rise to over 40 by the year 2040.

    Go to archive