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.
All rights reserved. You have permission to quote freely from the articles provided that the source (www.freewestmedia.com) is given. Photos may not be used without our consent.
Consider donating to support our work
Help us to produce more articles like this. FreeWestMedia is depending on donations from our readers to keep going. With your help, we expose the mainstream fake news agenda.
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 violations 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 delete comments that are offensive, contain slander or foul language, or are irrelevant to the discussion.
ParisFrench General Christian Blanchon, aged 58, commanded the 1st Parachute Regiment at Toulouse. He served as an officer in operations in Lebanon, Chad, Central Africa and Kosovo. And on September 9, 2022, this highly respected general published a tribute to the unvaccinated, which has gone viral on social media, but is being ignored by the mainstream media.
MoscowMuch is being said about Putin's grand speech on the annexation of former Ukrainian territories. But the alleged “madman in the Kremlin”, in contrast to the geriatric US President Joe Biden, offered valuable insights into the neoliberal and neocolonial Anglo-Saxon world view.
RomeFor those who had hoped that cooler heads would prevail, Italy's likely new head of government, Giorgia Meloni, has made an important political announcement: immediately after her election victory, she declared her solidarity with Ukraine and assured Kiev's President Zelensky of Italy's continued full support.
Gdansk/RønneMore and more disturbing details are coming to light in connection with the bombing of the Nordstream pipeline in the Baltic Sea.
The politically motivated sabotage behind the apparently serious and wanton damage to the gas pipelines Nordstream 1 and Nordstream 2 were likely ordered by a technically and militarily highly developed state. The aim of this crime, a very large-scale crime, could only have been to destroy any hope of further gas deliveries from Russia to Germany.
New YorkAt the UN General Assembly in New York, Hungarian Foreign Minister Szijjártó made an interesting observation: Europe has long since lost the "race of narratives" in connection with the Ukraine war.
Burladingen German industrialist Wolfgang Grupp, the CEO of textile giant Trigema, does not understand why Germans suddenly see Vladimir Putin as a mortal enemy. He believes that the US is controlling everything in the background and are the only winners of this war.
BerlinAnyone who criticizes the German system is quickly labelled as an "extremist". But because the state still has not found enough "right-wing extremists", it has decided to help a little bit.
BrusselsThe member countries of the European Union have revived the debate on whether to introduce majority voting on some issues of foreign or security policy instead of the current need for unanimous consent of all the bloc's states.
HaarlemThe city of Haarlem in the Netherlands has taken the radical decision to become the first city in the world to ban meat advertising in public places from 2024, due to its "climate impact", according to a decision drawn up by the environmental party GroenLinks.